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Dancing for dollars

Health-care workers create video in support of breast cancer prevention

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Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, September / October 2012

More than 80 people at Health Sciences Centre and the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service are off to see the Wizard, and they need your help.

The Surgical Processes team at HSC has produced a dance video based on the Wizard of Oz for the second annual Pink Glove Dance video competition, sponsored by Medline Industries in support of breast cancer awareness and prevention.

The video will be posted on the Internet on Oct. 12 when the public can go online to vote for the video.

"We're hoping all of Winnipeg, and Manitoba, will vote," says Melanie Biluk, a clinical resource nurse who acted as director of the film. Members of the public can vote once a day, from their home and work computer, along with other devices like smart phones. If they win, the team will donate the $10,000 cash prize to the Breast Reconstruction program at HSC.

The video was a labour of love for the team, who spent much of their free time on evenings and weekends for the past three months scripting and shooting the four-minute piece. It follows the storyline of the classic 1939 movie, with Dorothy Gale travelling in her dreams from Kansas to the Land of Oz and back.

"We had so much fun making this video," says Biluk, whose duties included counting out the beat for everyone when they were dancing in the scenes. "We used pink gloves everywhere, from the Cowardly Lion's mane to the Good Witch's crown."

Tracy McMillan stars as Dorothy. In real life, she's a peri-operative nurse and also a breast cancer survivor. The video includes scenes of her diagnosis and her surgery.

"Making this was cathartic for me," says McMillan. "I was diagnosed so young. I went from my role as a nurse to being a patient for the treatment. So the video felt like I was living through the cancer again, with the support from my co-workers." McMillan's three children also play parts in the video, along with her husband, who is a firefighter.

The team is pinning their hopes for a win on the fact that, unlike other entries where people are only dancing, their video tells a story. It begins with Tracy reacting to a phone call with the bad news. She meets surgical oncologist Dr. Ethel MacIntosh (who plays herself) and learns how her cancer will be treated.

When Tracy arrives at the hospital for her operation, she's beset by her fears. The anesthetic mask descends over her face, and she begins to dream she's Dorothy in Oz, skipping down a pink brick road. She meets the Scarecrow (nurse Kim Celaire), the Cowardly Lion (surgeon Dr. Ed Buchel) and the Tin Man (nurse Kyle Bisset). The three characters represent strength, courage and hope.

Instead of flying monkeys, Tracy fights cancer cells, orchestrated by the Wicked Witch of the West (Shannon Flaherty), with help from Glinda the Good Witch (Janice LaBarre). There's a scene when the Wicked Witch is melted into a puddle, after being doused with a bucket of pink gloves.

As Dorothy, Tracy finally meets the Wizard of Oz (Lee Heinrichs), taps her pink slippers together, and wakes up after her surgery. Then the whole crew moves outside, performs a big dance number, and delivers Tracy into the arms of her waiting children. The scene at the end includes 20 firefighters and the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service's pink fire truck, which draws attention to CancerCare Manitoba's Breast Cancer Centre of Hope.

Sally Brosnyak, the equipment and supplies advisor for operating rooms, learned about the contest and talked her co-workers into entering. Karen Church, operating room technician, and her husband dreamed up the idea of using the Wizard of Oz as the theme. They recruited nurse Glenda Rempel as videographer and production person.

The HSC video will be judged on four criteria: originality, creative use of the pink gloves, videography and choreography. Winners will be announced on Nov. 2, with the winning team receiving $10,000 to donate to the breast cancer charity of their choice. Second place will receive $5,000 and third $2,000.

Last year, 139 organizations from Canada and the United States participated in Medline's inaugural Pink Glove Dance video competition. Lexington Medical Center in South Carolina won first place last year with 61,054 votes. Medline Industries is a manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies.

Susie Strachan is a communications advisor with the Winnipeg Health Region.

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