"People think of surgeons as technicians, but we're problem solvers"
"I love helping people," Dr. Marcella Bradway says. "That's important to me as a doctor. And I like to give people autonomy. I teach them about their bodies. I'm candid about their disease. I give them their options because I want to put the control in their hands as much as possible. Knowledge is power: If a patient feels a lack of control, it makes their disease less manageable."
A surgeon with board certifications in general and colorectal surgery, she has been associated with Berkshire Medical Center since 2008. For Dr. Bradway, however, moving to Pittsfield was a homecoming. She grew up on the shores of Pontoosuc Lake and attended Berkshire Community College, prior to earning her undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Massachusetts. After completing her residency, fellowship training, and eight years of private practice in Connecticut, she returned to Berkshire County. She's thrilled to be back: "I missed my lake and the mountains."
Much of her practice involves treating colon cancer, but she also treats others disorders of the bowel such as colitis and Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, and anal problems like hemorrhoids, fissures, fistulas, and other causes of rectal bleeding. "My personality fits as a surgeon," she says. "If something's wrong, I want to fix it. I'm not fearful about doing a big operation if that's what's necessary.
"People think of surgeons as technicians, but we're problem solvers. Even in bowel surgery, I've never done the same thing twice. There are anatomical differences, the diseases vary. With so many potential permutations, every case is different. That's what makes it fresh. I also have long-term, therapeutic relations with patients - that's incredibly rewarding."
Dr. Bradway is keen on prevention. She emphasizes the importance of controlling constipation and consuming a high-fiber diet. But she's particularly candid about what she sees as the key aspect: "The main thing that people need to do to avoid problems is to get their colonoscopies. I say, 'See me for the test or see me for the disease.' I'd rather see a patient for a colonoscopy - and never have to operate for colon cancer, a mostly preventable disease."
Dr. Bradway is home again, living on Pontoosuc Lake with her husband, a Stockbridge native and a medieval historian, and their two children.