When I began writing the Catching Health blog in 2011, it was a means to an end. I was just starting a new business as a freelance health and wellness writer and decided a blog would be a great way to market my services.
The strategy worked, but something unexpected also happened. I spent more and more time working on the blog simply because I enjoyed it so much. Soon people began contacting me with story ideas or to say thank you for writing about a particular topic. Catching Health took on a life of its own and I decided to let it grow.
For many years, I was the health reporter on WCSH 6 in Portland, Maine. Toward the end of my career, I received this letter from a viewer:
“Dear Mrs. Atwood,
This letter is long overdue, but somehow appropriate to be written on my tenth anniversary. It is a thank you note to you.
Ten years ago you did a news special encouraging women to check their breasts for lumps. I decided to check. To my horror, I found something. I was only 31 years old. It turned out to be cancer.
I have been cancer free ever since.
I owe you my life, Mrs. Atwood. The doctors and hospital did a wonderful job, too. But if it wasn’t for your news show, I never would have checked for lumps.”
That letter sums up why I do what I do. I love interviewing people, researching all things related to health and wellness and sharing information that might make a difference in someone’s life.
Before I became a health reporter, I spent ten years as a radiation therapist, treating cancer patients at Maine Medical Center. It was a profound experience that gave me an appreciation for things I might have otherwise overlooked. The work also revealed the geek in me — as an assistant to the radiation physicist, I learned to calculate doses of radiation and calibrate the treatment machines. And I discovered that I understood and enjoyed the language of medicine, which is a huge help when that’s what you write about.
I left the hospital to attend St. Joseph’s College in Standish. After I got my BA, I lived and worked for a few months in France and then backpacked throughout Italy, Greece and Israel. That experience taught me I could do anything I put my mind to.
When I returned to Maine, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and landed a reporting job at WMTW-TV.
A year later another opportunity presented itself when WCSH-TV had an opening for a reporter. I thought it would be great fun, so auditioned and got the job. It was beyond great fun, as well as fulfilling.
After more than 20 years as a health reporter, another intriguing opportunity presented itself, and I became the marketing/public relations manager for Mercy Hospital in Portland. I thought Mercy had wonderful stories to share with the community and I wanted to help tell them, which I had the privilege of doing for nine years.
And now, here I am, old enough to retire but not the least bit interested. Instead, I’m writing a health and wellness blog that is growing by leaps and bounds and I couldn’t be happier!
- Media Award, Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine
- 3rd place in Feature Blogging, Maine Press Association
- Web Health Award
- Gold eHealthcare Leadership Award
- Gold Lamplighter, New England Society for Healthcare Communications
- Golden Arrow, Maine Public Relations Council.
I live in Maine with my husband and our three cats. We have two daughters, one son-in-law, and one adorable granddaughter.
In my spare time, I am a student at the University of Southern Maine, pursuing a fine arts degree.
Catching Health is everywhere
Bangor Daily News carries the Catching Health blog.
I have a monthly column in My Generation Magazine.
Turner Publishing runs stories from Catching Health in its community publications and its Boomer Magazine.
I hope you’ll take the time to browse through Catching Health. Read the blog posts, listen to a podcast, try a healthy recipe, and check out upcoming health events.
If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email. I’d love to hear from you!