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ACCC Brings Dr. Hope to DC

February 21, 2019
Joanie Mayer Hope

Starts with denial, there must be some mistake;
Check the name, check the lab, double-check the date.
Measure success one day at a time
Together we’ll get to a better place
If you place your hand in mine.

— “Third-person Reality,” N.E.D.

Like all future physicians, Joanie Mayer Hope entered medical school with a clear objective: to obtain the clinical expertise necessary to treat and care for the sick. But—unlike most of her medical colleagues today—Dr. Hope’s mission can take her out of the clinic and onto the stage, where she performs as one of the lead vocalists for the band, N.E.D. Shorthand for “no evidence of disease”—a phrase women with gynecologic cancers hope to hear after treatment—N.E.D. uses the indie-rock musical talents of its six members (all gynecologic oncologists) to bring attention to and promote awareness of gynecologic cancers, which Dr. Mayer Hope says often come with a stigma.

“I went into medicine because I felt it was a good way of advocating for the issues I felt most passionate about,” says Dr. Mayer Hope, who studied gynecologic oncology at the State University of New York at Brooklyn and the New York University Medical Center. “Our music is intended to be legitimately good music, to have a real professional quality and be about the universal themes of rock and roll: love, pain, joy, and survival.”

Dr. Mayer Hope will talk about combining her clinical expertise with the healing power of music at ACCC’s 45th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit on March 20-22 in Washington, D.C. There she will debut a music video for her new hip-hop song, “Any Mountain.” She will also launch a national campaign that uses the creative arts, medicine, and technology (including an app that can determine individual risk for gynecologic cancers) to raise awareness of and resources for ovarian cancer prevention.

Dr. Mayer Hope emphasizes that early diagnosis is essential to successfully treating ovarian cancer, which will claim approximately 14,070 lives this year. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated in stage I or II, the five-year survival rate is approximately 90 percent. That rate falls to about 28 percent when patients are diagnosed in stage III or IV. Due to the non-specific symptoms of ovarian cancer and a lack of early detection, only 20 percent of all cases are found early. Dr. Mayer Hope wants her music to change that.

“Music has always been very important to me,” says Dr. Mayer Hope, “and my creativity was unleashed in medical school. But it was not until I became a doctor that I took a creative leap forward and funneled my energy into music.”

N.E.D. performing

Since launching N.E.D. in 2008, Dr. Mayer Hope and her fellow musicians have recorded four albums and starred in a feature-length documentary. Millions have seen her and her bandmates perform, and her musical success has translated into significant funding for promoting the awareness and prevention of gynecologic cancers.

N.E.D.’s six members first came together at a medical conference in Florida 11 years ago. After staging a successful impromptu performance for their peers one evening, Dr. Mayer Hope and her bandmate, Dr. Nimesh Nargarsheth, wanted to keep the music going. The other musicians initially demurred, saying their professional responsibilities kept them too busy to keep up with a band. But they changed their minds after Drs. Mayer Hope and Nargarsheth secured a record deal from a recording studio that wanted to give the band a larger audience.

“What was started as a novelty has turned into a powerful movement that helps give a voice to women affected by gynecologic cancers,” says Dr. Mayer Hope. “We do from five to 12 concerts a year, and we have raised more than $1 million benefiting local communities.”

Make sure to read our next post on Monday, February 25, in which Dr. Mayer Hope describes the journey that took her to Alaska as the sole gynecologic oncologist in the state. 



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