Celebration in pink
Special to the Daily
VAIL – On March 3, 2011, Lisa Middlebrook got the devastating news that she had breast cancer. After a trying year of treatment and recovery, and exactly one year after her diagnosis, Middlebrook skied at Pink Vail to help support the Shaw Cancer Center.
The past year was the toughest of her life – undergoing a double mastectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy, 26 radiation treatments, losing her hair and missing out on traveling to visit family. But according to Middlebrook, getting cancer gave her a new passion for life. She was swarmed with support.
“I haven’t talked on the phone that much since I was a teenager,” she said. “My friends turned into my family, driving me to my appointments, arranging our meals, helping with the kids.”
Because of Shaw Regional Cancer Center, Middlebrook was able to stay near her family while undergoing treatment. Middlebrook, a Breckenridge resident for the past 10 years, became a regular face around Shaw.
Four days after her diagnosis, Middlebrook and her husband, Bill, met with the entire team of cancer specialists at Shaw. The surgeon, oncologist, nutritionist, genetic counselor, reconstructive surgeon and others walked them through her specific case and treatment options.
“They gave me the direction to help me realize I could do this,” she said. “We walked away knowing Shaw was the only place we wanted to go.”
Middlebrook isn’t alone in her passion for Shaw Regional Cancer Center and its team of care providers. Forty-four percent of cancers treated at Shaw are breast-cancer cases, and many patients sing the same praising song. In fact, they sing loud enough that over the last six weeks, 1,906 people stepped up to support breast cancer programs at Shaw Regional Cancer Center through Pink Vail.
Saturday’s inaugural Pink Vail event, which included a day of skiing and snowboarding, a checkpoint challenge, celebration ski-down and concert by British indie-rockers Gomez, was the celebration after weeks of fundraising. As of Saturday, Pink Vail generated $177,777.86, which directly benefits patient care and programs at Shaw Regional Cancer Center, the area’s only fully accredited cancer treatment and comprehensive breast center.
Shaw, a service provided by the nonprofit Vail Valley Medical Center, treats the entire person, not just the cancer. The patient has access to massages, nutrition and exercise experts, support groups, hair consultations, tai chi, a medical library, yoga classes and even a cancer caring lodge, Jack’s Place, which provides respite for patients needing overnight accommodations or rest between treatments.
“Pink Vail is an amazing event,” said Doris Kirchner, president and CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center. “Thousands of people have found a way to support Shaw Regional Cancer Center over the last month and now we are here to celebrate the tough women who have fought cancer and honor those who are no longer with us.”
Pink Vail received tremendous support from the community, both in donations and from businesses contributing to make the event special. Local small businesses like Signature Signs, Say No More Promotions, Batter, Vail Gourmet Cookie Co. and dozens of others donated products and produced things at below cost. The ski community also supported the event, providing ski gear and accessories to reward the participants.
“Pink Vail symbolizes an entire community coming together to support patients at Shaw Regional Cancer Center,” said Kirchner.
Middlebrook also saw her friends coming together for Pink Vail.
“The people who supported me during my treatment are the same people who supported my Pink Vail team, the Shaw Snowbabes,” Middlebrook said. “They posted on Facebook and sent emails to people, helping me get funds for Pink Vail. They are more than willing to support me in a great event like Pink Vail because they know how much Shaw means to me.”
The final tally of dollars raised for Pink Vail is yet to be determined as donations are still coming in through the mail and online. If you’d like more information on Pink Vail or would like to give, visit http://www.pinkvail.com.
Lindsay Warner is the communications and publications manager for the Vail Valley Medical Center.