Guest commentary: Rallying against cancer |

Guest commentary: Rallying against cancer


“You have cancer.” Those three words change everything. Life becomes harder and more complicated as the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of cancer and its treatment kick in. Everyone is affected by cancer.

In Colorado, one in two men and two in five women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. It is the second-most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease.

A year ago, Roaring Fork Valley cancer patients requiring radiation therapy had to drive hours every day, adding to the almost Herculean task of treating their disease.

Today, we celebrate a new day: September is the first anniversary of the opening of the Calaway & Young Cancer Center at Valley View Hospital. Today, patients now have comprehensive cancer care — medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology — close to home. They have skilled physicians, compassionate and trained nurses and the latest technologies right here in Glenwood Springs.

And it’s not just our caring team of physicians, nurses and therapists that make this work. We could not do this without our community of superb primary care physicians, partners such as the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Pathfinders and Valley Angels, and collaborations with the hospitals nearby— Aspen Valley Hospital and Grand River Health. Together we have exceeded our expectations over the past year and have taken a small step toward the end of cancer.

Several hundred local patients have been treated here with the benefit of remaining at home, close to family and friends, during treatment and not having to travel hundreds of miles daily because radiation therapy is now available locally.

In the past year, we also have bolstered our internal team. Dr. Armando Armas recently joined me, along with my colleague Dr. Bruce Greene, as the third oncologist at the center. With training at the Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Armas brings more than 20 years of experience caring for patients. Together we share a passion for providing state-of-the-art cancer treatment with compassion and care.

In addition to our dedicated and skilled team of oncologists, there are other things that make the Calaway & Young Cancer Center extraordinary, including an integrated approach to patient care. All new patients are reviewed by multidisciplinary teams. And support — including massage, acupuncture, exercise classes, yoga and tai chi for the social and emotional side of cancer — also is offered in the very same building. This arrangement, where we’re all under the same roof and right across the hall from one another, is brilliant and makes for exceptional care.

In celebrating our first anniversary, the Valley View Hospital Foundation on Saturday will host the second annual Rally the Valley, a communitywide fundraising event, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Sayre Park in Glenwood Springs. Proceeds provide resources and services to support patients at the Calaway & Young Cancer Center through their treatment and into survivorship. Our community is simply amazing. Last year’s event, despite pouring rain, raised more than $300,000 for the Rally Fund, helping patients benefit from support groups, exercise classes and integrated therapies.

I hope you will join me at the rally. Ride your bike 24.5 miles, walk four miles through downtown Glenwood Springs or join a fun kids parade. Join us for lunch at the Rally Party in Sayre Park, where we’ll enjoy healthy food by the local greats — the Pullman, Crystal River Meats, the Valley View Cafe and Pan and Fork catering. New this year, our local brewers from Aspen Brewing Co. and the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co. will man the beer garden along with live music. And kids will enjoy bouncy houses, rides and more.

I look forward to seeing you at the rally!

Visit or call 970-384-6620 to register.

Dr. Douglas Rovira is a medical oncologist who practices at both Valley View Hospital and Aspen Valley Hospital.

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