Story by The Maine Monitor and BDN receives accolade from Association of Health Care Journalists

The journalism contest recognizes the best health reporting in the country.
A composite photo that includes two images of Karen Wentworth, the contest's logo, a logo for The Maine Monitor and a logo for the Bangor Daily News.
Karen Wentworth seen in 2020, holding a concoction of life-ending drugs, and in 2021. Photos by Troy R. Bennett of the Bangor Daily News.

A story jointly published by The Maine Monitor and the Bangor Daily News last year earned an honorable mention from the Association of Health Care Journalists this week.

For twenty years, the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism have recognized the best health reporting in print, broadcast and online media. 

The association recognized “A Death of Choice” with an honorable mention in the consumer/feature category for small newsrooms.

Reporter Caitlin Andrews and photojournalist Troy R. Bennett showcased the remarkable story of Karen Wentworth, a Maine woman who believed people should have control over their deaths and lived to define her own ending while facing terminal cancer. 

While sitting in a chair in her backyard, Karen Worth lifts up her shirt to show a deep belly scar and feeding port.
Karen Wentworth shows a deep belly scar and feeding port left behind after successive, cancer-related bowel surgeries during an interview on Aug. 25, 2020 in her backyard. Photo by Troy R. Bennett of the Bangor Daily News.

A few months after Gov. Janet Mills signed a death with dignity law, Andrews — who was then a reporter for the Bangor Daily News and later joined The Maine Monitor — began searching for someone who was trying to get life-ending medication and would be willing to share their journey.

During the summer of 2020, she connected with Wentworth, who believed that telling her story would help others. Wentworth was the second person in the state to get a prescription under Maine’s 2019 death with dignity law. 

Wentworth only expected to live for a few months, but she hung on for two more years, having a grandchild along the way — providing Andrews and Bennett a window into her joys and struggles. 

In the same category, the Association of Health Care Journalists also recognized stories by The Atavist Magazine on compassionate inmate releases, Undark on cancer treatment side effects and Salon on mom influencers.

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