The band's music isn't all about GYN cancer or patient care – rather, the original songs are based on relationships, life experiences or funny stories. However, the surgeons have written a few songs focused on disease, and patients say they relate to the lyrics – as one song bellows, "Let fear give way to strength/Let hope conquer every sorrow" – which inspires them to continue to fight their cancer.
"I really believe that there is some healing power to music," says lead drummer Nimesh Nagarsheth, "and it has to do with first just healing the mind, and then the mind just healing the body."
At first, Nagarsheth, a GYN oncologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey, admits he was a little concerned patients may find it unprofessional he was in a band, but he couldn't have been more wrong. "Patients just love it, and they're really supportive," he says.
In some ways, their fame in the band has superseded their reputation as doctors, at least on Google.
"Patients are very savvy nowadays, and they'll already know your life story before they even see you," says lead guitarist William Winter, III, a GYN oncologist at Compass Oncology in Portland, Ore. One new patient showed off her knowledge about the band after her first consultation ended. "As we were walking out the door and getting their surgery planned, they look at me and say, 'OK, tell me about N.E.D., tell me about the band, what do you play?'"
[Read: How to Be an Empowered Patient.]
The music hasn't only unified the doctors with their patients. It's also played a central part in accomplishing what they set out to do, which is make some noise about a group of cancers that have largely been ignored.
At the end of the day, Nagarsheth says it comes down to awareness, and that's where their songs come in.
"While we work with patients on a daily basis – and it's very rewarding, and it's a privilege to take care of these patients – ultimately, you're taking care of one patient at a time," he says. "Whereas music can help get the word out to thousands of people at one time, and it really has."
For a list of locations where the N.E.D. documentary will be playing, visit nedthemovie.com. N.E.D.'s next shows are at the Rock For Hope music festival in Raleigh, N.C., Sept. 21 and the National Race To End Women's Cancer Weekend in Washington, D.C., Nov. 2.
For more information about GYN cancers, visit the Foundation for Women's Cancer.