By Beth Roden, Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, Bayer U.S.
In a way, I’m from all over. My roots go back to Corning in Western New York. From there, I moved briefly to Illinois before spending 20 years in North Carolina, then crossing the pond to spend six years in Germany. Now, I’m looking to move back to the Northeast with my husband Marc, making New Jersey our home. The plan involves spending lots of time with our three daughters — Emily (25), Kelsey (23) and Olivia (20) — and our much-loved fur babies. Our crew loves to travel, exploring new places with friends and other family members, or visiting my happy place at the beach or lake — anywhere by the water.
Since high school, I’ve always been intrigued and interested in medicine, thinking one day I’d become a nurse. At the same time, as the school’s yearbook editor-in-chief, I also found I really liked the process of telling a story. The latter interest led me to Columbia University where I took a few courses in journalism before heading to St. Bonaventure University to pursue a degree in Communications and Journalism.
As I moved forward in my career, I continued to grow my communications and storytelling capabilities. When I landed in the field of agriculture, I felt a huge calling to help the industry tell its story, reminding the public how much we rely on agriculture for safe and affordable food, protection from insects and pests in our homes and access to comfy sheets and towels made from soft lovely cotton — all made possible through science and innovation coming from companies like Bayer to support growers in farming. I’m equally fascinated by innovations in healthcare, and the significant strides made to improve people’s lives. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
This year our personal lives took an unexpected turn. My husband, who is an advocate for yearly health exams, went for his annual check-up which included a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to detect abnormalities. The results showed that his PSA levels were much higher than they had been a year ago when tested while we were still in Germany. His doctor was concerned about the uptick and ordered a biopsy, which confirmed prostate cancer.
Marc is a research guru and did his homework about prostate cancer. His doctor was great, explaining things to us in layman’s terms. Clear communication is critical when going through this experience because people need to understand so they can make good health decisions. We also had another family member go through this same cancer prognosis and treatment a year prior, so he and Marc talked to each other, a lot! I was glad to see him connecting with others to learn more about their experiences.
Hearing that you have cancer does make you pause and think about life. Regardless of all our big life changes with moving back to the States and the uncertainty of my next job, knowing we had this cancer treatment ahead kept us grounded and focused on what matters most — health!
Recently, Marc had his three-month check-up and his PSA levels were down to zero, which means he is cancer-free. We are so happy! Now, Marc is an even stronger men’s health advocate and he is not afraid to ask his friends and family about their PSA levels, encouraging men to have it checked. In fact, my best friend’s husband was due for a PSA check-up and my husband’s diagnosis spurred him to get rechecked quickly. Fortunately, his cancer was caught early, too, and he is also on his way to recovery, like Marc.
I’m in my 17th year at Bayer and I am thankful for the scientists who continue to research and find cures for these illnesses. Having options and treatments gives you comfort when delivered the news of a cancer diagnosis because it allows you to create a plan. My dad passed way almost three years ago from pancreatic cancer. His cancer didn’t have the kinds of treatment options like we have in prostate cancer thanks to science.
I encourage men to schedule regular health check-ups for early detection of prostate cancer. If diagnosed, learn everything you can about prostate cancer because education is important. Talk with other men who understand from a personal experience; and remember, take it one day at a time. While some things are consistent in terms of the treatment process, everyone is different; and the body responds and recovers differently. Have patience and faith!