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Published on February 18, 2020

A special motivation drives this ‘Dancing Doc’

Dr. Zacharatos

Nine teams are rehearsing regularly for the 2020 edition of Dancing With the Docs, a competition in which local doctors perform with “pros.” For one of the doctors, the fundraiser for a local nonprofit that helps support people with cancer has extra urgency.

“My brother has cancer right now and that gives me a stronger connection to the whole purpose of Cape Wellness Collaborative,” said Mario Zacharatos, MD, a family medicine practitioner based at MDVIP Yarmouth in South Yarmouth. “Cancer patients are near and dear to my heart, but thinking about him keeps me extra motivated.

“Last June, after deciding to do Dancing With the Docs, I found out from my brother that he was having trouble seeing out of his left eye. He ended up going to the emergency room and a CAT scan showed four tumors in his brain. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.”

Dr. Zacharatos’s brother lives in Philadelphia. He’s responding well to radiation and chemotherapy treatments, has his vision back and can drive again.

“Every day is a blessing when you have a family member with cancer,” said Dr. Zacharatos. “He’s my big brother and someone I’ve always looked up to. His having a cancer diagnosis is hard to deal with.”

Cape Wellness Collaborative (CWC) – the non-profit that benefits from the Dancing With the Docs event - gives free complementary, integrative therapies (including massage, acupuncture, Reiki and nutrition counseling) to people with cancer. Since 2015, CWC has helped about 800 Cape Cod cancer patients.

“I wish there was something like CWC in Philadelphia for him,” said Dr. Zacharatos.

Season Four

“Season four” of Dancing With the Docs will take place on Feb. 29 at the Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis. Three prizes will be awarded: the Medicine Ball Trophy, chosen by a panel of judges; the People’s Choice Award, determined by the number of text votes; and the CWC Community Hero, determined by the highest total of pledged contributions.

“Our rehearsals are going really well,” said Dr. Zacharatos, who will be dancing the foxtrot with Rebecca Terkelsen. “I kind of had the jitters before starting, but she’s a great trainer. We’ve been meeting once a week for three months and have been able to get a lot of our dance choreographed. Now we’re just perfecting it.”

The son of Greek immigrants, Dr. Zacharatos was a Greek folk dancer in middle school and high school. For his wedding to his wife, Liz, an oncology nurse, he took waltz lessons.

“What I’m learning now is a lot more complicated,” he said. “We might spend an hour and a half to learn a 10-second portion of our routine. I have a new respect for ballroom dancers. You can’t mess up and just hide your dance steps like you can in a group folk dance, so it’s a lot more intense.”

Although he’d like to win the judged competition, his main goal is to have a good time.

“I want to perform well for my wife and my patients and all the guests,” he said. “Hopefully we can make people smile and laugh and have a good time.”

How to Contribute

Dancing With the Docs is sold out, but fans can watch via a pay-per-view livestream. (Details will be available on the event’s web site and Facebook page.)

Pledges are already being accepted for the CWC Community Hero award. You can make a contribution in a doctor’s honor and help provide the integrative therapies that can help people with a cancer diagnosis feel better.

Here’s this year’s lineup of competitors:

Paul Anastasio, DC, chiropractor (cha-cha, Tracy O’Neill)

Stephen Brooks, MD, vascular surgeon (waltz, Kimberlee McHugh)

Tara Chute, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist (salsa, Brandon Simmons)

Talida Flonta, DDS, dentist (rumba, John Vazquez)

Debra Foschi, DC, chiropractor (disco, Scott Ross)

Lindsay LaCorte, DO, obstetrician and gynecologist (jazz/hip-hop, Michele Colley)

Diane Todd, OD, optometrist (swing, Doug McHugh)

Eric Weber, MD, primary care physician (bolero, Samantha Gendreau)

Mario Zacharatos, MD, family medicine (foxtrot, Rebecca Terkelsen)

PHOTO CREDIT:Dr. Mario Zacharatos and Rebecca Terkelsen by Marin Misoda/MySoda Productions