Betsy's Spirit of Survival

Betsy's Spirit of Survival

“It was shocking terrifying humiliating devastating all at the same time” Betsy Seabert explains of hearing her cancer diagnosis. She was at work when she received the call from her doctor and says she began sobbing uncontrollably. “It's the scariest news to hear.”

A Colorado native Betsy is a self-professed “mountain girl” whose family moved from Littleton to Leadville where she attended high school and she has lived in Steamboat for the past 16 years. She loves hiking camping paddleboarding and living in the woods for a week at a time in a pop-up trailer originally owned by her parents. She's also a musician—just like her parents her seven sisters her husband and her two sons.

When Betsy was diagnosed with breast cancer one of her sisters suggested a cancer center in Littleton where Betsy pursued her surgery and chemotherapy. One week after she began chemotherapy her 30-year-old son passed away.

“I was feeling bad physically emotionally and then being hit with that was indescribably devastating” explains Betsy of her loss. She had just started losing her hair and recalls trying to maintain some semblance of her hairdo for the funeral.

In the weeks that followed her son's passing Betsy underwent chemotherapy treatment. From there she'd have to do six weeks of radiation and as it's a daily treatment she needed to find cancer care close to home. Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards was the answer—not only does Shaw offer the best technology in image guided radiation therapy but Betsy could stay at Jack's Place through the duration of her treatment.

“I was really amazed to find Shaw so close that had everything I needed” says Betsy. “Being from out of town Jack's Place was an immense blessing.”

Betsy made herself at home in the complementary 12-room lodge for patients receiving care at Shaw. She brought paintings photographs flowers music and everything she needed to set up a remote office in her room. She recalls “I think the ladies at Jack's Place were a little surprised when I kept wheeling in furniture my computer printer and files. I set up camp and they very much accommodated me.”

Betsy would drive from Steamboat on Monday mornings stay the week and drive home on Friday afternoons. She spent seven weeks at Jack's Place and says “Really I made it home.”

Betsy's life had changed dramatically and through her time at Jack's Place she learned how to return to herself. “I've always been a really strong individual always taking care of everyone else” she explains. “Staying at Jack's Place gave me an experience where I was able to focus all my attention on taking care of myself.”

What began out of “convenience and necessity” as Betsy describes it turned into a journey towards recovering from the devastation of her diagnosis and the loss of her son and rediscovering her health and her passions.

“Being at Jack's Place surrounded by the clinicians and staff at Shaw it was a constant flow of support and understanding that was really healing” she says. “I had gotten into a pattern of letting my personal priorities slip. That's all changed and a lot of it because of the Shaw Center and the re-education I was able to get—the gentle coaching the subtle suggestions for taking my nutrition to a new level or getting outside and going for a hike.”

Like every patient at Shaw Betsy was given complementary access to the Spirit of Survival program which includes free fitness classes nutrition coaching emotional support and even acupuncture and massages. She says “I took advantage of everything I possibly could and it turned my life around.”

Betsy started working out with the cancer center's exercise physiologists who specialize in creating individualized programs for cancer survivors. She says it would have been “way more difficult” to regain her strength and establish a regular workout routine from what had deteriorated to the lowest physical baseline she had ever experienced without the encouragement of Shaw's fitness program.

She went on group hikes took yoga and Pilates classes attended healthy cooking demonstrations and even learned to love Brussel sprouts (a super food known to fight cancer). She began getting massage and acupuncture treatments and continues doing energy and body work today saying “I always knew there were benefits but I experienced firsthand how they changed the way I was healing.”

Betsy calls cancer a game changer. She says “When I arrived at Jack's Place I was in really bad shape. I was the weakest physically and emotionally after going through chemotherapy and losing my son. I never really realized the physical impact grief could have on you. I had no strength and I was just surviving just trying to get through the treatments and get through my work.”

Today Betsy is back to work full-force exercising regularly eating well and pursuing her passions. Betsy's game changing experience brought her back to music. While she had once played in a bluegrass band she hadn't picked up her mandolin for five years until one evening at Jack's Place when she and one of her sisters decided to play for a group of patients relaxing in the living room. “We were pretty rough but that didn't matter. Once we got past the 'I'm not good enough I haven't practiced enough' stage we just had fun” she recalls. “It warmed my heart.”

A few months after she finished treatment Betsy played a Pink Vail kick-off party at Crazy Mountain Brewery with her husband and some friends. This year Betsy will make a guest appearance with Rural Wreckage the opening band in a lineup of all-day live music at Pink Vail on April 2nd. She has started a team called the Cancer Cureleaders and they're currently working on their costumes and a special cheer for the judges of the Costume Contest.

Betsy's goal is to raise $2000 for Pink Vail because all the proceeds benefit the Spirit of Survival program which she calls “a wonderful gift” and says “I want to do my part to carry that on and make sure others can heal in the way that I have.”

To get register donate or volunteer for Pink Vail on Saturday April 2 visit www.pinkvail.com.

ABOUT PINK VAIL
Pink Vail is hosted at the top of Vail Mountain at Eagle's Nest and includes all day live music deck parties a costume contest and the Celebration Ski Down. All ages and abilities are welcome and you don't have to ski to participate. Similar to a run or walk to support cancer participants register at www.pinkvail.com and invite friends family and co-workers to join their team or make a donation on their behalf. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Pink Vail stay in the local community.

ABOUT SHAW REGIONAL CANCER CENTER
Shaw Regional Cancer Center is for anyone seeking comprehensive cancer care in a peaceful and intimate setting. Patients travel to Shaw for their Ivy League doctors top-of-the-line equipment—including the best technology available for radiation therapy and 3D mammography—and impeccable reputation for breast and prostate cancer treatment. The multidisciplinary approach of their cancer care team benefits each patient's individualized treatment plan supporting the patient and family through treatment all the way to survivorship. One of the country's premiere boutique cancer treatment facilities Shaw Regional Cancer Center has been recognized and accredited by some of the top cancer organizations in the country including the American Society of Clinical Oncology Cancer Foundation® Susan G. Komen for the Cure® American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) and the American College of Radiology (ACR).