Vail Daily letter: Gratitude to Shaw Center
Ryan Summerlin March 8, 2013
This past fall, I had the misfortune to be diagnosed with breast cancer and the good fortune to be treated at Shaw Cancer Center. I am so in awe of the comprehensive treatment and after-care program and the outstanding doctors and support staff that I experienced. I hope I can share some of my experiences and feelings of gratitude with the people of this valley. Cancer is a scary diagnosis, but from the day I first sought medical attention from Dr. Jean Hadley, my primary doctor, to the end of my treatment, I had such support and care that my fears were minimized.
Hadley has been my doctor for the past 10 years, and I have always been grateful for her care, but I owe her a special debt of gratitude for acting so quickly and setting me up within an hour to have diagnostic procedures preformed at the Sonnenalp.
Dr. Fox performed the necessary tests, and two days later, she was calling me with my cancer diagnoses. She told me she was sending the necessary files to the Shaw Center and I was scheduled to meet with their team of doctors the following Tuesday morning. That began a four-month experience with Shaw that truly has to be experienced to be believed.
Shaw Center is a team approach medical model, as they will tell you. It is an ingenuous plan that they have perfected. Throughout your treatment, you have the benefit of supervision and input from all the very knowledgeable doctors. I am grateful to them all!
Because of my particular diagnoses and treatment plan, I mainly saw Dr. Urquhart, Dr. Franciose and Dr. Hardenbergh. From the first visit of more than three hours, my husband and I knew I was going to be given the best of care. Each of these doctors has the professional knowledge and skills, found only in the top of their specialty, but have also managed to retain the ability to communicate, empathize and simply be warm, caring people. I believe from my experience that is a rare combination.
Along with their comprehensive plan, they have created a network of assistants and support people who are all equally professional. They are efficient, warm and caring, and tell you they are there to help you through your cancer experience, and so they are! Once they have met you, they always know your name. They care about the personal struggles that cancer brings and provide so many services to help you.
I want to thank Susan, the oncology nurse, who cares about your personal as well as medical problems. I want to also thank Melaine, the nutrition specialist, and Margret, from social services, for their helpful information. Also, the three radiation technicians – Susan (Que), Angie and Kayla – who had such a calming effect throughout my extensive treatments.
As perfected as their treatment care is, they continue it with their after-treatment support services for the survivors. What a beneficial and well-thought-out program this is!
The programs offered and the people who plan and orchestrate them are truly life changing. I want to thank the volunteers who help finance these programs and the people who I have dealt with personally. They are: Hilary and Sarah, from Fitness For Survival, for your help and inspiration; Laura, the pilates teacher, and Wendi, the yoga teacher, for your patient instruction; also Kim, the director of the beautiful Jack’s Place, for giving us such an inviting and comfortable place to wait between appointments.
I have wanted to express my gratitude to Shaw for all I have received, but I am also the messenger for so many others. During the course of my treatment and through the survivors programs, I have met so many present and past patients of Shaw. Everyone’s story of their excellent care and treatment is the same. We are all unanimously grateful! We all are so in awe of the people that first saw the need for local care and expended so much time, effort and money to make it a reality. We are so thankful for the doctors and support team that have maintained the integrity of the original plan.
It is my hope that when we count our many blessings that come with living in this beautiful valley, we will also count the Shaw Center among those blessings.