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Cancer

Journey From Patient to Employee at Shaw Cancer Center

Dan Elsbury was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015. During his two-year battle, he says he could not have imagined that one day his career would be helping other Shaw patients here at Vail Health.

Positive Change Through Difficult Disease

“Shaw means everything to me; it’s my second home,” says Dan, cancer survivor and now the Patient Resource Navigator at Shaw Cancer Center.

Dan says his cancer journey was truly life-changing – and he doesn’t regret having the disease.

“Cancer made me turn my life around 180 degrees,” he says. “I’m a much better person because of it.”

Dan took full advantage of the many wellness services Shaw offers, such as fitness classes, nutrition consults and emotional support. Now he is strong both physically and emotionally.

“None of this would have happened without cancer,” he adds.

Today, Dan is cancer-free. In fact, he celebrates June 5, 2015 – the day surgeons removed the tumor – as his first day of being cancer-free.

“June 5 is more than just my birthday,” Dan says. “It’s the day I beat cancer.”

Out of Cancer Comes Gratitude

“Until you go through cancer, you can’t fully understand what it means to your life,” Dan explains. That is why he is a perfect fit for the Patient Resource Navigator role at Shaw.

He shares his own story to help patients deal with the difficulties caused by cancer. Dan’s ability to relate and communicate his own experience is very reassuring to incoming patients. In other words, he is Shaw patients’ biggest advocate.

“Since I’ve gone through treatment, I can tell patients what to expect,” Dan explains. “When I knew what was coming, I could better prepare and that made it less stressful. It helped me keep a positive attitude, and attitude is everything.”


It is this positive mindset that has enabled him to thrive, rather than just survive cancer.

“I don’t take little things for granted anymore,” he says. “If I put a bumper sticker on my forehead, it would say, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’”

“Without having cancer, I would never have known about Shaw or met the amazing people there,” he says. “I am so grateful to have them in my life. Everyone here is my family.”

He also says Shaw is a great place to have a fulfilling career. “Knowing I can help patients get through cancer makes everything I’ve gone through worth it.”

“Without having cancer, I would never have known about Shaw or met the amazing people there. I am so grateful to have them in my life. Everyone here is my family.”
Dan Elsbury, Shaw patient and employee

You can help give patients like Dan the most advanced, compassionate cancer care that treats the whole person.

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