Skip to content




Philip Smith & Jean Graham: Supporting Cancer Care

Longtime residents Jean Graham and Phil Smith give back following their positive experience.

When Jean Graham was waiting for treatment at the Vail Health Shaw Cancer Center, she thought about the challenges she would face if she didn’t have the financial means to be treated there. That’s when she realized there was something she could do to help.

“When it dawned on me that some people can’t even afford to take a taxi there, I started thinking about making an endowed gift,” Jean says.

Following her bladder cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy, Jean was so grateful for the level of care she received at Shaw that she and her husband, Phil Smith, created their $500,000 endowed Graham and Smith Shaw Patient Assistance Fund.

Designed to assist patients and their caregivers who experience financial challenges while receiving medical care, the fund helps with non-medical expenses such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, car payments or repair, and groceries. This short-term support allows patients and their families to focus on what’s most important — their health.

Best Care Possible for the Community

Jean was also impressed with Jack’s Place, a cancer caring house for patients and their families traveling to Edwards, Colorado, for treatments. Established in 2007 and named in honor of Dr. Jack Eck, Jack’s Place has provided a reprieve for more than 3,000 patients and their caregivers. Jean describes Dr. Eck as a pillar of the community who has “great energy and has done so very much for Shaw.”

While receiving treatment at Shaw, Jean says she felt extremely safe. “I just knew I was going to be okay there, and I wasn’t surprised I got rid of the cancer,” she recalls. Jean also mentions the pleasant environment, the beautiful views, and the Spirit of Survival program, such as its exercise and nutrition courses, which she hopes to take advantage of soon.

“Once you are treated at Shaw, you become a lifetime member,” she explains. “The programs are great, and you get a lot of inspiration from the other patients.”

While Jean was going through chemo, Phil watched as his wife received the best care possible. “I was allowed to be in the room with her. We could talk or read, and I felt comfortable being there. I know Jean felt more comfortable having me there too,” he explains. “It was clear to me from the beginning that Jean was enamored with Shaw and that she felt good there.”

Jean adds with a laugh, “He was my taxi driver.”

Making Philanthropy a Top Priority

After living in the Vail Valley for almost 30 years, helping the community has become a priority for the couple, so creating the endowment was an easy choice for them.

Over the years, Jean has watched Vail Health grow and thinks the organization has become “more well-rounded and very responsive to the needs of the people who live here.”

Philanthropy enables Vail Health to remain an independent community hospital that can quickly make decisions and implement new ideas to benefit everyone. Jean describes Vail Health as “the heartbeat of the community” that warrants support from its residents and visitors.

“I think Vail Health puts life into the Vail Valley, and it puts a heart and soul into the community,” she adds.

To learn more about giving options that meet your specific needs and goals, please contact Aaron Ciszek at 970.569.7574 or and Anne Walters at 970.569.7648 or

“Once you are treated at Shaw, you become a lifetime member. The programs are great, and you get a lot of inspiration from the other patients.”Jean Graham

Your generosity will help ensure that award-winning cancer treatment is available close to home in our mountain community.


Share This