Years ago, I had a friend who was a singer in a retro-punk band called Vaginal Cancer. He picked the name after his girlfriend had had a suspicious Pap smear. (It was through this couple that I met my husband. They broke up, and weâ€™ve been married for 16 years.) There was a brief moment in my life when I felt very cool, being in divey Chicago punk clubs and hanging out with the band during all three of their shows. Or maybe it was just two.
Thatâ€™s one reason that the press release about the gynecological cancer awareness album No Evidence of Disease by the band N.E.D. caught my attention. The band name is medical shorthand for the albumâ€™s title; the members are gynecological surgeons who are also skilled amateur musicians. The group came together to play covers at medical conferences and benefits, and they found that people stayed to listen and even invited them back. They decided to write songs, engage professional producers, and turn their project into a full-fledged Cause CD.
Gynecologic cancers come in many flavors, including cervical, ovarian, vaginal, and endometrial. Some of these may occur in conjunction with breast cancer, and some just occur. These diseases are diagnosed in 78,000 women each year in the United States, according to the Womenâ€™s Cancer Network. They will kill 28,000. Naturally, doctors who treat these conditions see the worst and want to do something.
The songs that these particular doctors have written and recorded are firmly in the Earnest Singer-Songwriter mode, which fits the subject and the target demographic. Gynecologic cancers affect women, by definition, and they usually hit those between the ages of 30 and 55. Although one song, â€œFalse Pretenses,â€ has a metal influence, the recordings are more mellow than anything.
What makes me tired, though, is the trivialization of womenâ€™s conditions. They quickly devolve into marketing projects: pink ribbons, red dresses, silver bracelets . Would men settle for this? I think not. It would be nice if more money went into basic medical research and everyone had access to adequate health insurance. I was initially annoyed at one song because I misheard the lyrics as â€œribbon heals.â€ It is actually â€œRhythm Heals.â€
N.E.D. will be playing at the November 8 Race to End Womenâ€™s Cancer in Washington, D.C. , which will have both half-marathon and 5K events. Proceeds from the race and the N.E.D. project go to support the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.
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