In 2001, Vail Health (then Vail Valley Medical Center) became the first healthcare system to provide comprehensive cancer care to Colorado’s mountain region through the Vail Health Shaw Cancer Center. In July 2021, the award-winning cancer center celebrated its 20-year anniversary.
Over the past two decades, Vail Health Shaw Cancer Center has built a reputation as a premier cancer center for locals, as well as people from around Colorado and beyond. Visionaries like Dr. Patricia Hardenbergh and a group of locals who became the Shaw Outreach Team spearheaded Jack’s Place, a 12-room cancer caring house that opened in 2007 to provide lodging for patients. Dr. Hardenbergh also developed Spirit of Survival, a comprehensive and individualized wellness program that incorporates fitness classes, meditation, nutrition, physical therapy, support groups and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and Reiki.
Using the same technology you’d see in a big city cancer center, Shaw’s oncology team collaborates on each patient’s case to deliver specialized therapies based on cancer type, location and stage, as well as the patient’s individual goals and needs. Shaw features a state-of-the-art Image Guided Radiation Therapy Linear Accelerator, which provides the most precise forms of radiation therapy. Sonnenalp Breast Center offers the most technologically advanced breast imaging services available, including 3D mammography. In addition, Shaw’s team of expert physicians, like medical oncologist Dr. Alexander Urquhart and breast surgeon Dr. Julie Barone, continue to provide cutting-edge treatments, including products that improve breast reconstruction, while offering the individualized approach to care that makes the Shaw experience so unique.
“People who can go anywhere for their care continue to choose Shaw Cancer Center for our highly trained oncology care team, state-of-the-art treatment facility and on-campus cancer caring house,” explains Vail Health President and CEO Will Cook. “But it’s also our attention to wellness through the Spirit of Survival program, combined with the healing setting of the Rocky Mountains, that make Shaw a truly special community asset.”
In 2019, Shaw Cancer Center earned a gold accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC), the nation’s top cancer organization. CoC reinforced Shaw’s reputation as a top treatment facility with its 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award, given to only 48 other centers nationwide.
“Our team prioritizes quality care,” says Stacy Toyama, vice president of Shaw Cancer Center. “Shaw combines a high level of cancer care with state-of-the-art technology, a beautiful setting and a personalized approach to each patient. The result of this combination is our excellent survival rates, which are higher than the national average.”
Shaw Cancer Center is named after Harold and Mary Louise Shaw, who contributed approximately $18 million to build the center. Jack’s Place takes its name from Dr. Jack Eck, one of Vail Health’s pioneers and a cancer survivor himself. Dr. Eck shared his vision for a local cancer care center with the Shaws after seeing an increasing number of patients from Eagle County traveling to Denver for treatment.
Today, Shaw Cancer Center is known throughout the world, thanks to the efforts of participants of Pink Vail, who fundraised for the cancer center by asking friends and family to support their efforts. The dollars raised from 10 years of the event ensure every Shaw patient has access to complimentary Spirit of Survival services. Heading into its 13th year, Hike, Wine & Dine has raised invaluable funds for Jack’s Place and Shaw Cancer Center.
Shaw also gives back to the community through its education and prevention campaigns like Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Radon Action Month and Sun Safety Education in our local schools.
“No one expects a cancer diagnosis,” explains Toyama. “But for 20 years, Shaw Cancer Center has been caring for the people of the Rocky Mountains close to where they live, work and play.”