The Anson Jones Awards are given out by the Texas Medical Association to folks who do a bang-up job of health reporting. They’ve got good schtick, too, when it comes to announcing the awards. A real, live doctor swings by the various media outlets with a plaque and a check for $1,000, but the winner himself has no idea what’s coming. I got a note from the TMA about a month or so ago, informing me that Bradford Pearson won an Anson for the story he wrote last year for us about a woman whose breast cancer went undetected because she has dense tissue. Henda Salmeron fought to get a law passed in the Texas Lege that requires all FDA-approved mammogram facilities to inform women with dense breast tissue of the limitations of their mammogram results. It’s called Henda’s Law.
Flash forward to yesterday. When he’s not writing for us, Bradford is busy at his day job as the assistant managing editor at our sister People Newspapers. His boss, Dan Koller, told him that he needed to have a word with him in private. I was standing nearby and saw the look on Bradford’s face. It was not a look of joyous expectation. So Dan marched Bradford off to a conference room, where we’d secretly assembled 10 or so co-workers. At the head of the room stood Deborah Fuller, an ob/gyn from Baylor Dallas, dressed in her white coat. It’s hard for me to describe the look on Bradford’s face at that point.
Anyway, Bradford survived. I’m sure the check helped. Here’s what some of the judges said about his story:
“Excellent account of how a notification law on dense breast tissue came to be.” “Great example of solid journalism bringing to light a little-known issue.” “Well writen! A very important little-known medical topic. With this article, the writer has taken the central figure in the story, and Henda’s Law, and the concerns related to dense breast tissue — from the Texas Legislature to the lay public. With this information published, women know to ask for more aggressive or inclusive testing if the feel it’s necessary, given their knowledge about their own bodies.”