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NED, A Vibrant Band Of Doctors Rocking For Women With Cancer
N.E.D. is a doctor’s old shorthand for remission. It’s also the name of a rock band that’s breaking the silence surrounding gynecological cancers, conditions that some women still hesitate to mention: cancer of the cervix, ovary, uterus, vagina and vulva.
No Evidence of Disease is what an oncologist might say when there’s no sign of malignancy in a person who’s had cancer treatment. After a “clean” scan or a bone marrow test, it’s a phrase many patients love to hear. Or scream.
If you watch NED perform, you might appreciate this phenomenon. The band’s vibrancy is driven in part by its unusual relationship with the audience. The musicians are all board-certified specialists in women’s cancers. Many of their followers, or Nedheads, have been affected by cancer. When the doctors get on stage, people smile and start dancing. When it’s time for an encore, you can hear old women shouting “NED! NED! NED!”
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Living With Cancer: Dancing With N.E.D.
The vocalist begins her song with people shocked by a diagnosis they cannot accept, women not yet ready to admit they have cancer.
Starts with denial, there must be some mistake;
Check the name, check the lab, double-check the date.
While electric guitars and percussion join in, the lyrics of the song,“Third-Person Reality,” go on to describe turbulent anger, tension and fear that can only be eased by acceptance.
Measure success one day at a time
Together we’ll get to a better place
If you place your hand in mine.
The symbol of women with cervical, endometrial, ovarian, peritoneal, tubal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers— a teal ribbon—often goes unrecognized, but these patients do have their own rock band. Through the driving rhythms of folk-rock, the band members of N.E.D. accompany a refrain made especially meaningful by the fact that they are all surgeons who treat patients with gynecological cancers. The group started as a cover band to entertain doctors at a 2008 meeting of the Society of Gynecological Oncologists. Since then they have taken on a mission “to break through the silence of women’s gynecological cancer.” In the process, they have produced two albums to raise awareness and money for research.
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Oncologists by day, rock stars by night
In many ways, the N.E.D. concert on July 10 in a hotel ballroom near Union Station was like any rock show: The band ripped through a loud, 90-minute set, the booze flowed and the rowdy crowd cheered and danced. But the members of N.E.D. specialize in something other than music. They are six gynecologic oncologists, meaning they treat women with uterine, cervical, ovarian and other reproductive cancers, and their music is a way to raise cancer awareness.The band’s name stands for No Evidence of Disease, the phrase that cancer patients hope to hear after treatment.“GYN cancers are not things people talk about in our culture, and they’re woefully underfunded and misunderstood,” said John Boggess, who sings and plays guitar and keyboard in the band when he’s not working at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. “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 understanding.”
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