Dr. Deborah Cohan, a California mother of two, inspired millions by deciding to dance to Beyoncé's "Get Me Bodied" — with the entire operating room staff — just before her double mastectomy.
Deborah Cohan's video was viewed by millions and her healing journey continues. Just days ago, she started chemotherapy treatment.
Cohan speaks with Here & Now's Robin Young about the response to the viral video and the next step in her road to recovery.
Interview Highlights: Deborah Cohan
On dancing in the operating room
“I was very carefree in that moment. And it’s just amazing that it was that very intimate moment that happened to be caught on film, and happened to be broadcast and happened to be picked up by millions of people. But it was a very joyous moment, and in fact, I’d had a discussion with the anesthesiologist beforehand. I had asked permission of him, I wanted to make sure at least a few people knew what I was going to be doing. His one request was that he not pre-medicate me, and I said, ‘Well, that would be fine, because dance is my medicine.’ And I was really able to tap into a joyous place.”
On the feedback she's received
“I’m getting emails – beautiful, incredible emails – every day, and I got one the other day from this woman who has a three-year-old daughter who went into surgery yesterday. And for a few weeks leading up to her surgery, she was watching my video, and this little three-year-old girl, her name is Jewel, was calling herself Deb Cohan. And she went into surgery, she and her surgeon danced to my video one last time before her surgery, and her mother said she was not afraid. And that actually has nothing to do with me; it has to do with the girl was able to look at the video and see herself in me.”
On using dance in medicine
“My surgeon – her name is Dr. Cheryl Ewing at UCSF – was just very open and generous and gracious allowing me to do this. And afterwards, I’ve since talked to her, she said that other patients have requested to dance before their cases, and she has expressed gratitude to me for helping her patients feel less scared before their cases.”
“Perceiving my diagnosis, actually, one of the activities I had started doing as part of my job as a physician at UCSF is I had started dancing with the obstetrics and gynecology residents after rounds, and had started incorporating teaching principles of movement and dance as a way for them, as physicians, to get into their bodies, as a way for them to cultivate their own physical listening skills, to be better physicians and to be better surgeons. So there was a small ulterior motive: as I was dancing with my O.R. staff, I wanted them to be in their bodies as well, and for their physical listening skills to be fully activated.”
- Deborah Cohan, obstetrician/gynecologist at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center.
This segment aired on January 16, 2014.