This letter first appeared in the Vail Daily on May 11, 2020
I have had the unexpected and most unwelcome opportunity to spend too much time at the Shaw Cancer Center (and other Vail Health facilities) over the last 10 months. For my most recent treatments for my Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer, I had daily radiation therapy five days a week for five weeks. It began on March 12, just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold here in Eagle County. My days there were evidence of extraordinary efforts being taken by all of the staff to protect their patients, the most vulnerable among us, those of us undergoing active cancer treatment.
In one of the nation’s earliest hotspots, the entire staff engaged in daily inventions of more and better ways to keep themselves and their patients safe and healthy. Each visit brought evidence of yet another improvement to making the environment safer. Only patients with appointments were allowed to enter the facility, always alone. We were questioned about our health each day, wore masks and used hand sanitizers before entering. Walking routes for entering and exiting were changed, along with the waiting areas, to reduce incidental contact with others or their residual germs. Staff were reassigned, many to the constant chores of cleaning surfaces. COVID-19, the “invisible enemy,” was kept away.
What was most memorable was the warm and caring way in which patients were treated during each and every visit. During my necessary self-quarantine, these wonderful people were my only direct contact with human beings. I am deeply thankful to all of them. We are so lucky to have the Shaw Cancer Center in our valley.