There are approximately 12 million cancer survivors living in the United States today. While they may or may not be cancer free, survivors today still heavily rely on a network of doctors, nurses, patient advocates and other patients for ongoing support.
According to Ann Wilcox, the executive director of the Calaway-Young Cancer Center (CYCC) at Valley View Hospital, there are times when people who have been affected by cancer — whether patients, family members or medical staff — need to come together, away from the medicine, away from the illness and the hospital, and celebrate what they’ve accomplished together.
This Thursday, Valley View will host its first Cancer Survivors’ Day Celebration at the CYCC. Wilcox and her staff have invited more than 1,400 patients, families and the entire medical staff to come and to reconnect. Patients will have the chance to talk with their oncologists and oncology nurses and acknowledge the care they were given and the support provided to them.
“This is the first time we have hosted a celebration like this,” says Wilcox. “We think it’s important for everyone involved in the cancer treatment and lives of these patients to be together. They know each other in a way that only a few understand. They have relationships that are so deep and substantial.”
Patients will have an opportunity to reconnect with and even thank specific doctors or nurses who played a role in beating cancer. “Dr. [Douglas] Rovira is one doctor who stands out,” says one former patient and Glenwood Springs resident. “At the very first appointment, Dr. Rovira clearly explained what the diagnosis was and what treatment would be like. My husband and I left feeling prepared to make decisions. Dr. Rovira seemed able to anticipate our questions, and would answer thoroughly and patiently.”
The $26 million, 30,000-square-foot Calaway-Young Cancer Center opened in 2012 as part of a major hospital expansion. The CYCC offers advanced radiation therapy, previously unavailable in the Roaring Fork Valley, and additional clinical and infusion therapy space for VVH’s long-standing Medical Oncology program. Its centerpiece is a state-of-the-art cancer radiation treatment program, which includes: a $3 million TrueBeam linear accelerator that is used to deliver radiation therapy with pinpoint accuracy; a superficial radiation treatment machine to assist surgeons and dermatologists in treating complex, recurrent or cosmetically sensitive skin cancers; and a high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy machine that delivers precision-guided, internal radiation therapy applications. All of these radiation treatment options are tightly focused on tumors to minimize serious side effects and to help ensure the maximum radiation dose is given to cancerous tissues while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Beyond the advances in technology, the CYCC also recruits and hosts visiting doctors from around the world to work with local patients. These doctors, according to the recent testimonials, are known for both their bedside manner and their medical knowledge.
The CYCC provides a complement to VVH’s existing General and Subspecialty Medical and Surgical programs. A resource library, boutique and salon, multipurpose area and Integrated Therapy treatment rooms are all on site, providing services and resources that seek to help heal the mind, body and spirit of each patient.