I arrived at the meeting a bit early in order to experience the meeting and to get a feel for things. I spent some time in the meetings, highly scientific and often beyond my technical understanding. I also spent time in the exhibit hall where there were booths for all sorts of breast imaging technology and equipment. I sort of set up shop in an open corner to see if I could meet some folks.
Walking around I stopped by one of the smaller booths. The booth featured some video monitors. A couple of men were staffing the display and explained to me that the monitors they were selling provided a much clearer and higher quality image for the radiologist to read the mammogram or other image. My thought went immediately to the idea that perhaps Susan’s cancer that was not detected by a mammogram in 2000 might have looked different if displayed on this particular monitor. I looked at them and said, you guys are in the business of saving lives. They looked surprised. They agreed, yes, the work that happens on their product, and the reason they believe it should be bought is because it will help doctors detect cancer. Maybe with the new or better images the diagnosis will come earlier and more confidently. Selling monitors can be the Sacred Work of saving lives!
It was a fabulous audience. I was so pleased to be introduced by Dr. Jennifer Harvey who heads the division of breast imaging at the University of Virginia School of Medicine This was the third time she has seen the show! Dr. Elizabeth Morris Chief of Breast Imaging Services at Memorial Sloan Kettering and President of SBI was also present and helped get the show on the agenda for the meeting. She had seen the show at our opening night in New York this past January.
Speaking with some of the radiologist once again I was impressed with how important it is for them to hear the voice of the care giver and spouse. A number of the doctors were facing their own personal challenges with loss. They wanted to let me know that they had their own journey.
Many of the doctors came up to me after the performance of The Actual Dance and throughout the afternoon following the show to say how much they found the show moving and as a critical reminder of all the “stakeholders” (my word) in the disease and treatment. One doctor said it well. “We have to always be aware that there is more than the doctor and the person in the bed involved in the disease.”
Mostly though I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to provide something that is meaningful to this group of people, mainly radiologists. Perhaps all doctors are engaged in Sacred Work. At the SBI meeting though there was just something special to me, most probable because of our -- Susan and my -- intimate relationship to breast cancer that made it feel that all of those at the conference are angels working to save lives like Susan’s.