‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 4 Episode 6

For the fourth season in a row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7 p.m. CDT through May 17. Check in every Monday morning for historical and contemporary context on the show along with some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Be aware that some posts may contain spoilers.

 

Paulette Roland (Nell Hudson) and Vaughn Sellars (Sam Gittins)

Paulette Roland (Nell Hudson) and Vaughn Sellars (Sam Gittins)

 

By Bethany Domzal Sanders

Bethany SandersAs I watched this episode, I struggled to find a commonality between the different storylines until the very end when it all clicked. Two simple words—“let go”—the last words uttered during this episode, tied together the stories of the people and midwives of Poplar.

We midwives sometimes see a woman fighting the birth process because of the intensity of what she is feeling. When this happens, we find ourselves urging women to relax, release fear or tension, and let go. As the Sister said as she assisted with a labor, “[You have] a brave beautiful body. It knows the way and so do you.” Sometimes as labor unfolds new information presents itself. We find ourselves encouraging women to let go of the expectations or plans they had previously held and instead embrace their course of labor. For some women this could be deciding it is the right time for the epidural they didn’t want or the Cesarean section they really wanted to avoid. As Vaughn said, “Sometimes what’s best for you isn’t what you want.”

Paulette and Vaughn were faced with a heart-aching decision in which they had to let go of the future they dreamed of. In the 1960s our understanding of Type I diabetes (often called juvenile diabetes since diagnosis was usually made in childhood) was much more limited, as were treatment options. As recently as 1924, over half of babies born to women with diabetes did not survive (www.diabetes.org), so the risks that Dr. Turner and Nurse Crane were worried about were very real. Another popular portrayal of Type 1 diabetes in pregnancy comes from the movie Steel Magnolias, showing that even in more recent history diabetes and pregnancy can be a dangerous combination. Thankfully as medical knowledge and diabetes management has advanced, the routine termination of pregnancy in diabetic women is no longer recommended.

This episode of Call the Midwife also saw an older mother having to let go of some of her fierce independence. With her ailing grandmother unable to assist at her birth, she instead had to rely on an outsider and a new mother whose own baby she had recently assisted into the world. Sometimes the line between birth and death is so thin, and I certainly had tears as the encampment said goodbye and let go of the grandmother. I loved the multigenerational view of the family and the sense of community they shared. I found myself hoping the young mother would become a midwife herself “sustained and inspired by those that had heeded the call before them.” After all, I believe the phrase “call the midwife” refers not only to summoning a birth attendant, but also to the internal drive that leads women to choose this profession.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 5

For the fourth season in a row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7 p.m. CDT through May 17. Check in every Monday morning for historical and contemporary context on the show along with some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Be aware that some posts may contain spoilers.

 

Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) and Janice Prendergast (Bethany Muir) in Season 4, Episode 5.

Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) and Janice Prendergast (Bethany Muir).

 

By Michelle Collins

Michelle CollinsNo matter one’s opinion on vaccines, I found this episode to be very timely given the recent Disneyland measles outbreak.

We saw the midwives treating the pregnant woman for diphtheria, which probably none of us has ever seen in our lifetime since diphtheria immunization is currently widely practiced. Diphtheria is a life threatening infection that begins with symptoms easily brushed off as an ordinary upper respiratory infection – low-grade fever and sore throat. The bacteria causing diphtheria reproduce in the throat and form a strong film which can actually cause the person’s airway to become obstructed. This film was historically dubbed the “strangling angel,” as literally, victims can choke to death.

Consider that not until the 1920s was adequate diphtheria vaccine coverage widely available. Prior to that time, there were as many as 100,000 to 200,000 reported diphtheria cases in the U.S. yearly. We cannot fathom the magnitude of 206,000 cases and 15,520 diphtheria-related deaths annually, most of those deaths among children, which was the actual state of the disease in 1921. (See Immunizations for Public Health.) Compare that to the present day, in which only one case of diphtheria (or fewer) is seen annually in the U.S.

Also in this episode, we saw a realistic example of the vulnerability we feel as healthcare providers. When Dr. Turner (played by Stephen McGann) missed the diagnosis of a very rare disease in the baby with multiple bone fractures (which turned out to be osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as “brittle bone disease”) it sent him into a downward spiral of self-doubt, and dealt a heavy blow to his confidence. Every midwife has had those moments where we wake in a panic in the middle of the night thinking, did I overlook something in that patient? Or, did I miss something in the course of that labor that I should have picked up earlier? Any midwife (or practitioner) who says this has never happened to them simply hasn’t been practicing long enough.

Most of the time we midwives would agree with people who tell us we have the best job. When all is going well, it is an awesome job (arguably a calling much more so than a job). There is nothing that compares to receiving a new life into one’s hands; it is a privilege to be sure. However, when things go wrong or there is a bad outcome, there is literally nothing more sad or tragic. Given that, we all just try to do our best every day, with every patient, despite overbooked schedules and little sleep, juggling work and family, often times while enrolled in school to further our education. Just as Dr. Turner realized, we are all human, and no one individual is perfect.

Was it reasonable that Dr. Turner surmised, from the baby’s symptoms and history, that the fractures were a result of child abuse? Absolutely, because 99.9 percent of the time that would have been a correct diagnosis. The reality is that even a slight error on our part could have catastrophic consequences. That, my friends, is just sometimes too great a truth for any midwife to dwell on.

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, is an Associate Professor of Nursing, Director Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

‘Reconstruction: A Moment in the Sun’ premieres in April on NPT

Reconstruction: A Moment in the Sun, the ninth of NPT’s original Tennessee Civil War 150 documentaries, premieres Thursday, April 23, at 8 p.m. An encore presentation airs  Monday, April 27, at 11 p.m.

Reconstruction ad

The documentary is a riveting tale of revenge, domestic terror and broken promises after the Civil War, told through reenactments and interviews with historians Beverly G. Bond, Ph.D. (University of Memphis); Carole Bucy, Ph.D. (Volunteer State Community College); Crystal A. deGregory, Ph.D. (HBCUSTORY, Inc.); William Hardy, Ph.D. (Tennessee Tech University); and Tennessee State Historian Carroll Van West, Ph.D.

Reconstruction: A Moment in the Sun is the fifth Tennessee Civil War 150 documentary for NPT producer Ed Jones. A history buff, Jones said though he started the series with a good working knowledge of the Civil War, he’s learned quite a bit while working on the programs over the years. What did he learn from researching this last one?

“If anything, Reconstruction has reinforced my previous beliefs about the war,” Jones said.  “It was such a horrible waste of lives, resources and time.  All because of greed, greed which blinded slave owners to the horrendous crimes they were committing against fellow human beings.”

 

 

NPT’s Tennessee Civil War 150 series received the Tennessee Society of the Daughters of the Revolution’s Public Relations and Media Award earlier this month. The organization was impressed by the “depth and breadth of the presentation of the events of the Civil War in Tennessee and its effect on the lives of Tennesseans throughout the state.”

Reconstruction: A Moment in the Sun was made possible by the support of The First Tennessee Foundation and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 4

For the fourth season in a row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7 p.m. CDT through May 17. Check in every Monday morning for historical and contemporary context on the show along with some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Be aware that some posts may contain spoilers.

 

Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates)

Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates)

 

By Bethany Domzal Sanders

Bethany SandersAt the beginning of this episode of Call the Midwife, we hear the voice of Jennifer Worth, upon whose memoirs the series is based, setting the scene with a mention of “pain as well as joy.” That certainly is what this episode was all about. There was so much packed into this hour I felt like I needed to watch it over again to make sure I didn’t miss anything! The pain of gender disappointment was so eloquently shown in this episode. Trixie’s heartache and struggle with her own demons showed the depth of her vulnerability. The tragedy of prostitution had us rooting for Bridget despite her “wickedness.” And yet, it was Norah who I wanted to know more about and who felt the most broken to me.

Syphilis has a long and storied history, dating back to before the days of Christopher Columbus. Primarily a sexually transmitted disease, syphilis starts as a painless ulceration to the skin. Without treatment syphilis progresses to secondary syphilis, which is characterized by a rash, and then becomes latent with the infected person showing no symptoms. Throughout the first four years after contracting syphilis the disease can be spread to others. Tertiary syphilis occurs as the disease continues to effect different parts of the body, including the brain and heart. This is where the skin growths called gummas are seen (like what afflicted Norah’s neck and chest). Syphilis can also be transmitted in pregnancy to the developing baby; up to 75 percent of babies born to mothers with active infections contract the disease. Thankfully, syphilis is treatable. Interestingly, the recommended medication has not changed since the 1940s so the same penicillin that Bridget received is still given today as a series of weekly injections.

While syphilis is not a new disease, and we know how to treat it effectively, infection rates in the U.S. recently began to increase for the first time since the 1940s. As part of a public health campaign you may see billboards around Nashville urging people to get tested. Use of condoms, or “sheaths” as the earnest Sister Winifred calls them, can prevent the spread of the disease. In 2013, Tennessee reported 214 cases of primary and secondary syphilis to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two of these cases were in infants infected during pregnancy. All pregnant women should be tested by a simple blood test at least once during pregnancy, just as the midwives of Popular were administering over 50 years ago.

As for the joy part of the episode, it is truly a delight to see images on television of women giving birth in positions other than on their backs. Most women in labor find laying on their backs to be more painful and uncomfortable, which makes sense because of the very mechanics of birth. So many media images of birth, however, show women in what is called the lithotomy position – flat on their backs, legs up and pulled back, often in stirrups. My midwifery heart smiled when I saw Bridget squatting for the birth of her baby, a position that increases the space in the pelvis. Mrs. Robbins laying on her side demonstrated another position favored by midwives, especially for tired mamas after a long hard labor. The experience of labor and birth can often be summarized best as Romans 8:18, “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

VOCES documentaries highlight Latino culture

Fridays through May 1 we’re showing documentaries from ‎VOCES, Latino Public Broadcasting’s arts and culture series. Each program airs at 9 p.m.

 

Friday, April 17: Children of Giant returns to Marfa, Texas, where Elizabeth Taylor, ‪‎Rock Hudson‬ and James Dean filmed the movie ‪Giant‬ in 1955. Hector Galán’s documentary reexamines the Anglo/Mexican-American racial tensions in the original movie.

 

Javier Sicilia in Arizona.   Credit: Courtesy of Loteria Films

Javier Sicilia in Arizona.
Credit: Courtesy of Loteria Films

 

Friday, April 24: Now en Español introduces the women hired to dub “Desperate Housewives” into Spanish for American audiences. In the documentary, the close-knit group talks about the challenges of being Latina actresses and the frustrations of being just this side of the Hollywood dream. Now en Español is also a look into the fascinating world of dubbing films into other languages.

 

 

Friday, May 1: El Poeta profiles Mexican poet, novelist and essayist Javier Sicilia, who launched an international peace movement following the brutal murder of his 24-year-old son. Juan Francisco was killed along with six friends in March 2011; they were more victims in a brutal drug war that has left more than 70,000 people dead since 2006.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 3

For the fourth season in a row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7 p.m. CDT through May 17. Check in every Monday morning for historical and contemporary context on the show along with some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Be aware that some posts may contain spoilers.

 

Dolores McEvoy (Siobhan O’Kelly) and Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett)

Dolores McEvoy (Siobhan O’Kelly) and Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett)

By Michelle Collins, Ph.D., CNM

Michelle CollinsAuthenticity and disease.

As I watch these episodes of Call the Midwife, I like to look for themes, and those two words come to mind from this episode. First, disease. It’s always amazing to me when information arises from these episodes that is as relevant today as it was in the time period depicted in the show. As we watched Shelagh Turner (played by Laura Main) describe the saving graces of hand-washing and the use of soap to the women in the prenatal clinic, I was reminded of Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865). Not a familiar name you say? Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician who was the first to propose the one thing that could decrease the incidence of puerperal fever (also known as childbed fever).

Childbed fever, or the infection of a women’s reproductive tract which is conferred during the process of giving birth, was a scary reality for women in the 1800s. The mortality rates for women giving birth in hospitals at that time was as high as 40 percent. What is astonishing is that the major cause of childbed fever was the contamination of women’s reproductive organs from bacteria on the hands of the very physicians who attended their births. You see, physicians would go from birth to birth in the hospitals, even from performing an autopsy to a birth, and rarely (if EVER) wash their hands. Hard to believe, but it was not understood that one’s hands were such fertile ground for bacterial growth. A leading obstetrician of the day was quoted as saying “Doctors are gentlemen, and gentlemen’s hands are clean.”

Enter Ignaz Semmelweis, who noticed that women who stayed in their homes to give birth had a markedly lower rate of childbed fever than those giving birth in the hospital. He proposed – and proved – that the simple act of washing one’s hands with an antiseptic solution (prior to attending a birth) reduced the mortality rate from childbed fever by an astounding 90 percent. Shockingly, as still happens today, those in the “establishment” who refused to accept his findings persecuted him to the point that he was eventually committed to a mental institution, where he subsequently died. A long overdue thank-you, Dr. Semmelweis.

The other theme of this episode for me was authenticity. It was heartbreaking to watch the tortured young man attempting to fit into the societal mold that was the antithesis of who he really was. The court proceedings he underwent were cringe-worthy, and the sentence of “treatments” that would “cure” him equally so. This brings us back to my earlier point that I am amazed when stories or circumstances arise from these episodes which are as current now as they were during the show’s time period. Haven’t we very recently seen news stories about clinical programs purporting that they can “cure” homosexuality? We would like to think that we have come a long way since the time when it was actually a crime to be oneself; but perhaps not. As the good Dr. Seuss once said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, is an Associate Professor of Nursing, Director Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Event and programming to mark 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon

This month NPT is hosting a special in-studio event featuring Rory Kennedy’s Academy Award-nominated documentary, Last Days in Vietnam, and airing special programming in observance of the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.

In studio
Join us Wednesday evening, April 22, at NPT for a 50-minute preview screening of Last Days in Vietnam, followed by a discussion with Hugh Doyle, chief engineer on the U.S.S. Kirk – the Navy vessel involved in dramatic helicopter rescues – and Binh Pho, a college student in South Vietnam during the war. Both will be present in the studio, along with local Vietnam veterans and members of Middle Tennessee’s Vietnamese American community.

Dinner from Nashville’s Miss Saigon restaurant will be served at 6 p.m.; the screening begins at 7 p.m.

This screening event is free, but registration is required. To RSVP or find more information, click here. The studio event will simultaneously be streamed online with audiences participating across the nation.

Images courtesy of Howard Ruffner and the WGBH Educational Foundation.

Images courtesy of Howard Ruffner and the WGBH Educational Foundation.

On air
NPT will also broadcast a number of programs about the Vietnam War this month:

Tuesday, April 21, at 8 p.m. Filmmaker Barak Goodman’s (Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies) My Lai explores the 1968 My Lai Massacre of 300 unarmed civilians by a company of American soldiers. Shown as part of the American Experience series.

Monday, April 27, at 8 p.m. The Draft examines how who serves in the military continues to define our country. This program is being presented as part of PBS Stories of Service.

Monday, April 27, at 9 p.m. During the Vietnam era, journalists and the American public asked tough questions about the conflict. Dick Cavett, one of the leading media personalities of the time, informed the debate through interviews on his hugely popular talk show. Dick Cavett’s Vietnam combines interview segments from his show with network news footage and material from the National Archives to provide context to this controversial chapter in U.S. history.

Tuesday, April 28, at 7 p.m.  On May 4, 1970, four college students were killed on the campus of Ohio’s Kent State University during a protest about the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Kent State ‒ The Day the ’60s Died examines the events leading up to and after that fateful day.

Tuesday, April 28, at 8 p.m.  The full documentary Last Days in Vietnam, about the fall of Saigon and the American military pullout, airs on the American Experience. This presentation is part of PBS Stories of Service.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 2

For the fourth season in a row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7 p.m. CDT through May 17. Check in every Monday morning for historical and contemporary context on the show along with some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Be aware that some posts may contain spoilers.

 

Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett).

Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett)

 

By Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM

Bethany SandersThis was a very emotional episode in many ways.

I loved the support the midwives showed for one another in the midst of such a gut-wrenching moment. That hug that Nurse Crane gave Nurse Gilbert cracked her seemingly icy outside and really showed the depth of her compassion. I like Nurse Crane in this mentor role as it really represents the tradition of midwifery where senior midwives continue to offer their expertise and experience to newer midwives; much of the art of midwifery can’t be learned in books. It’s always nice to see a group of women building each other up and coming together.

One of my favorite things about Call the Midwife is the authentic glimpse into birth, which at times includes difficult and agonizing moments such as when a baby is stillborn. This episode featured one of those difficult moments by “dragging into light things unseen” and showing the tragedy of pregnancy and infant loss.

Although none of us likes to think of a baby dying, sadly it does happen and more frequently than we would like. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control data for 2013 reports nearly 600 deaths per 100,000 live births. While some of these deaths can be attributed to birth defects, in many cases a definitive cause is never identified.

That look shared between Nurse Gilbert and Nurse Mount was a familiar one for nurses, midwives and doctors–the silence that has so much weight as you struggle to deal with the reality of the situation and the flood of your own emotions. It is one of those times in life where there is no guidebook about what to say or do and what is said can leave a lasting impression. Surely I wasn’t the only one who cringed a bit that neither Abigail nor her husband were offered an opportunity to see or hold their infant daughter. Fortunately, our understanding of the support grieving parents need has advanced some since the 1950s, although there is still a ways to go.

In 1988, October was designated as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan, recognizing that there are no words to describe parents who have lost children either through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirth, birth defects, SIDS or other causes. More recently there has been a national movement to make October 15th “Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Remembrance Day.” This observance provides an opportunity for families and friends to acknowledge and celebrate these lives, no matter how brief they were. Loss doulas and perinatal hospice teams uniquely serve these most vulnerable and hurting families. Support organizations such as SHARE Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support have active local chapters where parents can relate to each other’s experiences and tell their stories.

As Sister Julienne so wisely said, “What is love if not acknowledged?”

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 1

For the fourth season in a row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7 p.m. CDT, March 29-May 17. Check in every Monday morning for historical and contemporary context on the show along with some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Be aware that some posts may contain spoilers.

 

Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann), Collette Wimbish (Olivia Llewellyn) and Shelagh (Laura Main).

Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann), Collette Wimbish (Olivia Llewellyn) and Shelagh (Laura Main).

 

By Michelle Collins, Ph.D., CNM

Michelle CollinsSeason 4 of Call the Midwife started out with a bang with midwife Trixie (played by Helen George) catching a baby born in a taxicab. And yes, midwives prefer “catch” terminology rather than “deliver” (for more on that look up midwife Lauren Hunter’s excellent paper “Women give birth and pizzas are delivered: Language and western childbirth paradigms; citation below).

As the midwives discussed this unusual event (unusual because women gave birth at home, so babies were rarely born in transit to another location), you may have caught Sister Evangelina’s disparaging remark about the movement away from giving birth at home, and how that would inevitably lead to such occurrences. Between that and the storyline on formula vs. breastfeeding, I felt this episode highlighted well how the medical establishment has chipped away at the normalcy surrounding birth. There was a time, in our no so distant past, in which mothers were advised that formula feeding, compared to breastfeeding, was actually better for babies.

Typical parental guidance in the 1940s included:
•    Putting babies on a rigid feeding schedule, rather than depending on baby’s hunger cues to allow them to lead feedings
•    Minimizing any holding and/or snuggling of babies to avoid spoiling
•    Making sure that baby’s environment was completely quiet while baby was feeding or sleeping (how did large families try and achieve that one??)

The most damaging advice in my opinion was to avoid picking up and consoling a crying baby (if you knew they were fed and had a clean diaper); to do so could result in (yet again) spoiled children. There was no recommendation at the time about babies sleeping in the same room with the parents, let alone (gasp!) safe co-sleeping.

Enter Dr. Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician who published his best-selling book on parenting, Baby and Child Care, in 1946. Dr. Spock was a revolutionary for his time (or an utter heretic depending on whom you asked!). Spock urged mothers to rely on their maternal intuition with his simple message: “You know more than you think you do.” Dr. Spock could have been an honorary midwife. By recognizing the normalcy of pregnancy and childbirth, and forging women and family centered relationships with our clients, we as midwives remind them constantly to trust their instincts and their intuition; mammas really do know best. When a woman is struggling with the initiation of breastfeeding, and the sometimes accompanying challenges, I love to reassure her with “you made this baby, nourished and grew him/her inside your body, and if that weren’t spectacular enough, you have everything you need to feed this little one.”

It saddens me to see women being robbed of this self-trust by a medicalized obstetrical culture that exists in the U.S. For those who falsely believe that the U.S. maternity care system results in the healthiest of pregnant women and babies, I urge you to check the facts. We are sorely lacking, yet we spend significantly more money on obstetrical care than other similarly sized industrialized countries. To pregnant women and new mommas I say, trust your instincts and question advice that “doesn’t sit quite right” with you. Ask for the evidence and have frank discussions. You absolutely do “know more than you think you do.”

Citation mentioned above: Hunter, L. P. (2006), Women Give Birth and Pizzas Are Delivered: Language and Western Childbirth Paradigms. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 51: 119–124. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2005.11.009

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, is an Associate Professor of Nursing, Director Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Special programming marks ‘Cancer’ documentary premiere

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, a new three-part documentary presented by Ken Burns, will air on NPT at 8 p.m. nightly, March 30 through April 1. Directed by Barak Goodman, the film is based on Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name.

 

Cancer film image

We are marking the occasion in a number of ways.

NPT producer Shawn Anfinson created three short videos highlighting local people who are involved with cancer research, survivorship or volunteerism.

The videos feature people connected to our three partners in a preview event for Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies: Dr. Carlos L. Arteaga, Associate Director for Clinical Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; Felice Apolinsky, Program Director for Gilda’s Club Nashville; and Ray Bell, a longtime volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.

These are currently being shown on NPT and are also on our YouTube channel.

We will also broadcast the following ancillary programs highlighting aspects of the cancer story:

Monday, April 5, at 11:30 p.m. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies – A Conversation is a talk between Ken Burns; Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee; and Sharon Percy Rockefeller, President and CEO of presenting PBS station WETA and a cancer survivor. Katie Couric (Yahoo! News), co-founder of “Stand Up To Cancer,” moderates.

Thursday, April 9, at 11 p.m. No Evidence of Disease highlights a rock band made up of six gynecologic oncology surgeons from across the country. (The band’s name comes from the four words every patient prays to hear, “No Evidence of Disease”.) Originally created as a cover band to entertain their peers at a medical conference, the group turned into an awareness movement to give a voice to women affected by gynecologic cancers.

Monday, April 20, at 11:30 p.m. Another documentary focuses on using music to help cancer patients. Kids Rock Cancer documents a program of music therapy in which children write and record original songs in their hospital rooms and then record a CD for their families to keep.