part because he’s one of the few
guys in the program.
“It’s 90 percent women,” he says.
“Just me and the girls.”
Snyder is one of those “girls.”
The mother of two attends boot
camp once or twice a week with
Williams and a core group of regu-
lars. The class incorporates a lot of
“I can go to the gym by myself,
but I don’t work out nearly as hard
as what Sarah makes me do,” Sny-
der says. “That’s just human nature.”
In total, Snyder lost 27 pounds
and kept most of it off. She credits
her gym time, along with some
serious changes she made in her
diet after meeting with dietician
Melaine Hendershott, the oncol-
ogy nutritionist at Shaw, with her
newfound healthful lifestyle.
“I don’t eat red meat anymore,
that’s a biggie,” Snyder said. “And
I watch the dairy and the fat con-
tent. They’re very particular there
about you being a certain weight
and having a certain BMI, since
that contributes to cancer.”
And unlike many survivors,
Snyder says she doesn’t struggle
with fears that the cancer is going
to come back.
“I’ve made a lot of changes in
how I go about everything,” she
says. “I’m healthier, I’m more fit.
I feel like I’m doing my part to
continue to battle cancer.”
Each week Brammer sees cancer
survivors suffering from symptoms
that range from increased anxiety
“A cancer diagnosis can have
a profound impact on a life,”
Brammer says. “People are on a
path in their life and when that
cancer is discovered it is common
for plans to change or be put on
hold. For example, depending on
the type of cancer or the age of
the individual when they receive
a diagnosis, there might be con-
cerns around fertility. Cancer may
affect roles and relationships with
family members, friends and with
Brammer teaches people how to
cope with all of the changes.
“We work on calming tech-
niques,” she says. “It can be very
basic —learning to breath in a
mindful way that can help bring
a person back to the present
and ground them. Breathing is
something we all do but don’t
think about. It’s one of the most
powerful tools we have.”
Beginning this spring, Brammer
will kick off the Peer Connection
Program, which will connect
current patients with past patients
who’ve been on a similar journey.
The initial pilot program will
focus on matching breast cancer
survivors since that’s the largest
population of cancer survivors
Shaw serves, Brammer said.
“It will match breast cancer
survivors with individuals who
have just received a diagnosis and
want to connect with someone
who has been there,” Brammer says.
”Sometimes issues come up for a
newly diagnosed patient that may
be resolved just by talking with a
survivor.” Sometimes talking to
someone who has “been there” is the
perfect medicine for the mind.
That’s the Spirit
Fit for Survival
Supervised workouts &
Yoga, Tai Chi & Pilates.
Group hikes, snowshoes, ski
days and other activities.
One-on-one peer support.
Pathfinders coping skills.
Spiritual guidance and
Individual, group and
Education & Guidance
Emotional support and
guidance from dedicated social
worker Margaret Brammer.
Nutrition information and
cooking demos by Melaine
Hendershott, a registered
dietician and oncology
Nurse Navigator Kelly White
assists patients through each
step of care.
Communication with patients’
doctors via physician liaison
cancer information in the
patient library, overseen by
Shaw’s First Descents Camps
are available for up to 30
patients age 18-39 each year.
We work with our partners at
First Descents to create camps
where adult cancer survivors
and fighters are empowered
through conquering legitimate
outdoor challenges – allowing
healing to happen naturally
Jack’s Place – a
A 12-room lodge next door to
Shaw with views overlooking
the Sawatch Mountain Range
and Eagle River, a workout
studio, massage room,
meditation room, wireless
internet and a gourmet kitchen.
Intended for traveling patients
and their caregivers, it operates
on a pay-what-you-can
Pet Partners visits.
At Shaw, they treat a patient’s mind, body and spirit —hence, the Spirit of
Survival progressive program. It’s designed to improve life and survivorship
through complimentary exercise training, nutrition counseling, emotional
support outdoor camps and a little pampering.
Sarah Giovagnoli, front,
director of the “Fit for Survival” boot
camp at Shaw Regional Cancer Center,
leads a group in exercises aimed at
contributing to wellness and recovery.
Despite its difficulty,
physical activity is often a priority for
those fighting cancer. Snowshoe treks
are one of the many activities in the
“Spirit of Survival” program.
For more information about the “Spirit of Survival” program, visit
where in addition to
program information, you can find a calendar of activities and events.
Program coordinator Margaret Brammer can be reached
at 970.569.7606 or
Photos by Dann Coffey and Justin McCarty