Dancers aid women’s health

“The need is there for us to have this second, dedicated machine. It’s kind of a milestone for our city to get this,” — Elise Cerny

Instructor Andrea Ramage slows the routine down to fine tune the movements of the belly dancing routine. Read My Hips will perform at a fundraising event at the Kinsmen Community Centre

Belly dancing troupe Read My Hips is telling a story of hope and inspiration as they raise money to help the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation purchase a da Vinci Robotic Surgical System for the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System is a less invasive operating system that can be used on women needing surgery for uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers.

Edmonton already has one operating system, however, it’s open to women only one day a week; it’s mainly used by the urology team for men’s health.

Time constraints are set by the number of staff trained to use the machine in the fields of oncology and gynecology as well as the amount of funding allocated to women’s health.

“The need is there for us to have this second, dedicated machine. It’s kind of a milestone for our city to get this,” said Elise Cerny, director of communications at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

“Once they have access to it on a full-time basis they’re going to be able to do more surgeries and complex procedures down the road,” she added.

Sharon Liddle, a member of Read My Hips, saw the efforts to raise the $3 million needed for the new machine on the TV news six months ago and knew she had to get involved.

“This is something I believe in,” said Liddle. “It’s a project I could take on and do something for.”

“If I could make a significant contribution just by spreading the word I wanted to do that,” she added.

After seeing the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation’s cause on the news. Liddle used Facebook as her stage and collected her own donation pot, which she sent to Sharlene Rutherford, vice-president of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

“I’ve just kind of taken this on as my own personal passion,” said Liddle.

Read My Hips is hosting a halfa — meaning party — event Sept. 28 at the Ponoka Kinsmen Community Centre. The night includes cocktails and dinner, a silent auction and belly dancing entertainment; compete with Read My Hips and four professional dancers.

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System offers several benefits to women, including, due to the less invasive procedure, a decrease in both recovery time and complications with fertility due to scarring.

“I think the biggest advantage is that the surgery is so much less invasive,” said Liddle.

So far the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation has raised $1 million for the machine that would be the first in Canada solely dedicated to women’s health.

At the Royal Alexandra Hospital a 22-year-old woman with cervical cancer underwent surgery with the system and it was able to keep enough of her cervix intact that she still has a high chance of having children.

“It’s more than just a robot it’s also a huge benchmark for women’s health . . . Women’s health is important and front and center,” said Cerny.

In London, Ont. the operating system was also used in a kidney transplant procedure; the woman recovered in three days, says Liddle.

“We want this to be the best hospital in Canada; that’s the vision, that’s the goal,” said Cerny.