N.E.D—no evidence of disease. It's those words cancer patients want to hear after treatment, so when six gynecologic oncologists got together to form a
band, that's the name they chose.
"GYN cancers are not things people talk about in our culture, and they're woefully underfunded and misunderstood," John Boggess says. "We really
believe that we're starting a conversation. Because there are worse things than getting cancer, and that's feeling isolated and without help and
Boggess, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, sings and plays guitar and keyboard in the band.
The group put on a concert at
the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Boggess and the others first played together in 2008 at a meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. That time, they played cover songs by some
old groups. You know, those Beatles guys and the Rolling Stones—those sorts of things.
The group's six members are from Alaska, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina and Oregon. All but one of the band members are men in their 40s and 50s.
The lead singer, Joanie Hope, is a female. (Don't you love that name?)
The group began writing original songs after the 2008 conference. They released their first album, "Six Degrees," in June. They chose the title because
of the connection nearly everyone has to cancer. The album's proceeds go to Marjie's Fund, a nonprofit
named for a woman who died of uterine cancer.
The band admits being spread from one end of the continent to the other has its challenges, but Boggess explains why this group can handle it.
"As surgeons, we're just really used to doing what it takes to get things accomplished, and we have high expectations for ourselves," he said. "We
don't walk into things thinking we can't do it."
OCNA board member Jenny Allen said the cancer organization was thrilled to have the band play at their conference this year.
"We're very, very, very lucky to have them," Allen says. "The ovarian cancer entertainment industry is not a large one."
The doctors don't stop communicating about hope and survival when they leave the examining room. Sometimes they do it through a song, like "Celestial
Visions." The lyrics say, "We are more alive today/ than we may be tomorrow/ let fear give way to strength/ let hope conquer every sorrow."
"It just blows my mind that they're doing this," says Annamarie DeCarlo, 55, of Annapolis, a 10-year survivor of ovarian cancer. "See, they're rock
stars to us already, because they're saving women's lives all the time."
Do you know doctors in your organization who communicate about health care or hope through the arts—through the written word, paintings, music or more?
If so, share them, please. We'd love to hear their stories.