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Published on February 17, 2017

Competition is stepping up for the dancing doctorsCompetition is stepping up for the dancing doctors

“Dancing with the Docs” takes place March 4, but the competition is already heating up.

“We’re going to win,” proclaimed oncologist Molly Sullivan, MD.

“We’re the best,” stated surgeon Kate Dalton, DO.

“We’re shooting for first place,” said Darijan Suton, PhD, manager of employee wellness at Cape Cod Hospital.

Family practitioner Patti Fater, MD, is less confident, but she said, “I’m having more fun than anyone else!”

They’re among nine doctors, each paired with an experienced local dancer, who’ve been rehearsing all winter to get ready for a showcase of their dancing skills. The gala event at the Willowbend club in Mashpee is a fundraiser for Cape Wellness Collaborative (CWC), a local nonprofit that gives free complementary, integrative therapies (including massage, acupuncture, Reiki and nutrition counseling) to people with cancer.

The doctors are coming to the event with a range of dancing experience. Dr. Sullivan took ballet lessons briefly as a 6-year-old at the YMCA. Dr. Dalton also took dance lessons when she was a girl and later competed in gymnastics and diving.

Dr. Suton said his mother signed him up for ballroom dancing lessons when he was in middle school. After two months of lessons, he switched to playing soccer.

The dancers will be scored by a trio of judges. You can vote for your favorite couple online or by texting CCDOCS to 855-735-2437 (votes are $10 each; proceeds benefit CWC). Public votes combined with the judges’ scores, will determine the winner.

The dancers also will be competing to see which dancing pair can raise the most contributions for CWC.

Tickets for the gala event are on sale now and they’re going fast. Tickets for the formal, black tie event are $250 and include a cocktail reception and a gourmet dinner designed by Delicious Living Nutrition and the Willowbend culinary team. After the performances and a live auction, the dance floor will be open to all.

Free viewing parties will be held at The Loft (at the Cove), 183 Main Street, West Yarmouth, and the Seaside Pub on Main, 615 Main Street, Hyannis. You also can watch at home on Cape Cod Community Media (Channel 99).

Dr. Fater said she enjoys dancing to R&B and Latin music with her husband (Marc Fater, MD, who is also part of the competition). For Dancing with the Docs, she was assigned swing dancing through a random drawing.

“This is not a style of dance I ever even tried to approach before,” she said. “I just have to keep doing things over and over and over again to get my body used to it.”

They all report that rehearsals are going well.

“It’s been challenging at times,” admitted Dr. Sullivan, who will be dancing the modern tango to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics. “It’s not the most natural feeling. Pam Wills, my coach and partner, had her part memorized within our first two or three sessions. We’ve done it in baby steps and it’s coming along nicely.”

Suton, whose dance partner is Debbie Israel, will be performing the cha-cha to “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE.

“When we started working on our steps and choreography, I remembered learning all this stuff when I was a teenager. She knows every part of the body and how it’s supposed to look during a certain move. She’s able to pinpoint little things to improve my technique.”

Dr. Fater said her dance partner, Doug McHugh is “amazing. Taking direction is a new thing for me, as far as dancing goes, but he’s been very patient and lets me get where he needs me to be.” They’ll be dancing the swing to Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman.”

“I look forward to Thursday every week,” Dr. Dalton said about her rehearsals (she and Tracy Anderson will dance salsa to “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira). “Every time I talk with one of the dancing doctors, they light up with happiness. It’s helped with our well-being as much as we’re hoping to help others.”

CWC was founded in September 2014 and started serving clients about a year later. Since then it has provided over $50,000 in wellness therapies to 170 people facing cancer.

“As a surgeon, I see a lot of cancer patients and I really believe in the mission of Cape Wellness Collaborative,” said Dr. Dalton. “I feel like what Cape Wellness offers has been missing for our patients. I’ve seen the treatments work for my patients. Something as simple as fatigue, there’s no medication we can give them and we can’t surgically take it out, but if they go for Reiki therapy or acupuncture or yoga, they come back and say my fatigue is so much better. That’s something I can’t give a prescription for, and I love having it available for them.”

“CWC offers invaluable services to people with cancer,” said Dr. Sullivan. “What they offer is really remarkable and worth our support.”

Auction items at the event include vacations in Aruba and the Bahamas, Red Sox tickets, a private cooking lesson for four with Nicole Cormier of Delicious Living Nutrition, and a private book club brunch with Lisa Genova, author of “Still Alice” and other best-selling novels.

For more information about Dancing with the Docs Cape Cod, visit the event’s web site or Facebook page.

[Above Image, L-R: Dr. Patty Fater with Doug McHugh, Dr. Jose Fernandez with Norah Dale Allen, Dr. Kate Dalton with Tracy Anderson]