Thoughts from our Editor – October 2017

As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this year, the month has special meaning for me.

Over the summer, I was referred for a routine mammogram. I turned 40 this year, and my primary care physician – who is very vigilant when it comes to the health of her patients – insisted it was time.

So, a few weeks later, I found myself sitting in the waiting room of the local hospital, consumed by a growing sense of dread. I’d never had a mammogram before, and from all accounts, I was in for an uncomfortable experience.

Once called for my appointment, the tech quickly put me at ease. Yes, it would pinch, she said, but it would not be unbearable.
A true professional, she made the process seem to fly by, and moments later, I was out the door, footloose and fancy free.

Care free, until the call came from the nurse at my doctor’s office, the nurse who said I needed a follow up ultrasound, and could she get me scheduled sometime this week?

I tend to treat most situations with humor, and I joked with the receptionist who checked me in for the ultrasound roughly a week later. I made small talk with the ultrasound tech during the test, asking her  where she went to school and if she had any kids, the usual banter.

After the screening, I was headed to the waiting room when she asked me to stay behind and wait to speak to a doctor. She ushered me into a room where a kindly physician explained the ultrasound had detected an unusual mass in my right breast, and it would need to be biopsied. I made a weak joke about setting a new record for having medical tests, but no one was laughing.

Due to a host of factors, I had to wait nearly a month before the biopsy, and then two weeks after that for the results. It was benign, thank goodness, perhaps the most glorious word in all of the English language.

During the interminable wait, however, like anyone else confronted – even briefly – by their own mortality, I spent a lot of time thinking about the road not taken, the paths I’d yet to forage. I considered the footprints I’ve left behind and thought about the mark I still wanted to leave on the world.

That’s why when an opportunity presented itself to bring to the community a free screening of an inspiring and educational documentary, Our School, along with a panel of distinguished scholars, I jumped at this chance. As responsible members of the media, we at Pennsylvania Bridges believe above  all in the power of information.

Less than a week ago, we partnered with the Romani Media Initiative to hold a very successful, well attended event, during which I firmly believe many minds and hearts were changed. Thanks to George Eli and Patrick Wiley from the RMI, to George’s assistant Ben, to our incredible panelists Jud Nirenberg and Cristiana Grigore, and to my fellow sponsors, Buday Law and Webchyk Design Studio. Thanks also go to so many others involved with the planning of the event, with an especial thanks to Dr. Richard Martin and Pastor Dawn Hargraves.

I’m running out of space so I’ll conclude by saying two things. Number one is simply to encourage all women of appropriate age to schedule a mammogram. Early detection saves lives. You may be apprehensive, I certainly was, but let me assure you it’s a relatively painless process and so worthwhile.

Two, I challenge everyone reading this to contemplate how you might be a catalyst for positive change, no matter how small or how significant, in the lives of those around you. If we all try to make the world a better place, it will be.

Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton