A lot of things went through Bill Petersen’s mind when he was diagnosed with colon cancer six years ago. There was fear, of course. Relief that the cancer was caught relatively early. And determination – to beat the disease, but also to not let his Loveland ski pass go unused.
“I’m cheap,” Petersen jokes.
His surgeon was able to remove all the cancer. But a follow-up scan –using technology that wouldn’t have been available just a decade ago – detected microscopic cancer particles. So his Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers oncologist, Patrick Moran, MD, recommended six months of chemotherapy. Good for fighting cancer. Not so good for the ski plans.
But Petersen’s determination to hit the slopes never waned. He consulted Dr. Moran, who was very supportive, Peterson says. And so, despite some fatigue, and with a therapy port in his shoulder, Petersen and his wife headed to Loveland. He wasn’t sure he could really manage a run, but he did—a little slowly, and he had to rest in between runs, but he skied. “I sort of surprised myself. I realized, I can still do this. It became a personal affirmation. Cancer is not the end of the world and being able to ski became one more way to prove that.
Now, he’s making it possible for other Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers patients to experience the same feelings of affirmation and control at a time when they most need them.
Two years ago, after his treatment was over, Petersen decided a little ski therapy could benefit others undergoing cancer treatment. So he approached Loveland Ski Area’s Director of Marketing and Communications, John Sellers, with an audacious plan: Would you be willing to give those Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers patients that are actively under treatment some sort of special incentive? After a brief discussion, Sellers’ response was to make those patients eligible for the same steeply discounted price Loveland gives their customers who are age 70 and over. All they needed was a note from their doctor saying they are OK to ski.
The Loveland discount program for RMCC patients is about to enter its third ski season. And Petersen is hopeful that more patients than ever will take advantage of the ski area’s generosity.
At six years cancer-free, Petersen is back to skiing at full steam. And he’s excited about the prospect of giving other cancer patients something to feel good about. After all, it was an act of kindness that likely saved his life in the first place. Petersen had his first colonoscopy at 65 – 15 years late according to cancer-screening guidelines—only as a gesture of solidarity with his wife, who was having her colonoscopy.
“Had she not had hers and I not volunteered to go, I would have been fat dumb and happy – and dead by now,” Peterson says.
To qualify for the reduced-rate Loveland season pass, patients must present written authorization, available from their RMCC doctor, verifying that they are able to participate in this activity, as well as a valid government ID, at the time the pass is purchased.
Petersen would love to hear from other RMCC patients and program participants and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.