Oncology infusion services now available at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital

Dec. 24, 2019

Sometimes, it is the small things that add up to be the big things.

Mary Scott receives chemotherapy at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital
Mary Scott receives infusion services in Woodland Park at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital. Photo: UCHealth.

That’s the case with Mary Scott, a resident of Divide, Colorado, about 30 minutes west of Colorado Springs. God is everything to her now. So is her faith.

It’s been a blessing for her to drive herself to receive chemotherapy treatment at UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital (PPRH) and not have to drive down Ute Pass to Colorado Springs for that care. It saves her time and gives David Scott, her husband of 32 years, respite.

Scott, 56, was first diagnosed in December 2010 with Stage 2B breast cancer. She lived in Dayton, Ohio, at the time and had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In 2016, while living near Ogden, Utah, physicians discovered soft tissue sarcoma in her collarbone, which was removed. In 2018, after moving to Divide, doctors at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs discovered the cancer had metastasized to her spine.

She started on a cancer pill, then her physician, Dr. Uchenna Njiaju, an oncologist, encouraged her to have chemotherapy.

“She knows I have a lot of faith, and she is supportive of my faith and she said, ‘We will prayerfully go into this,’’ Scott said.

For weeks, Scott had been traveling to Memorial Central in Colorado Springs for the treatment, which she has every Friday – three weeks on and one week off.

“It ended up being about a seven-hour ordeal. I had to go down, have the blood work, and have the pharmacist prepare the chemotherapy which, I understand, takes time to do. But with travel time there and back, it ended up being about seven hours.

“When we go down to the Springs, the traffic bothers me. After I am done with chemo, I just don’t feel like driving it,’’ she said.

Now, that’s all changed. On Thursdays, Scott takes the 15-minute drive to UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital for her blood work. The next morning, she drives back to the hospital to receive chemotherapy. Her treatment lasts for 90 minutes.

Infusion services in Woodland Park

A pharmacist at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central prepares the chemotherapy and a courier delivers the medicine to PPRH a few minutes before Scott arrives for her treatment.

“This is such a godsend,’’ she said. “My husband, he has been at my side since 2011. He has been to all of the appointments with the exception of a few, because he just couldn’t make it. He’s never complained.

“When we lived in Utah, he drove 70 miles to the hospital in Salt Lake City. I was going through radiation every day, and he’s never complained,’’ she said. “Now, I drive myself, which is wonderful. It gets to the point with cancer that it is not always about the patient – it’s about the caregivers too. It’s tough on caregivers to have to drive. He deserves this break.’’

Dr. Njiaju said adding oncology infusion services at UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital helps patients.

“We are so happy to be able to offer infusion services in Woodland Park,’’ Njiaju said. “We have patients coming from far, past Divide and Florissant, for whom the drive to Colorado Springs can be very tasking.

Nurse Heidi Swanson provides care for patient Mary Scott.
Nurse Heidi Swanson provides care for Mary Scott because of the availability of infusion services in Woodland Park. Photo: UCHealth.

“Many of our patients are dealing with effects of treatment and we want to make it easier for them however we can.  With the services of our wonderful UCHealth nursing and lab services staff, our patients can rest assured that they are getting the same quality of care they would get, had they continued to make the longer drive to Colorado Springs.  I am always very happy to see the happiness and relief in the faces of my patients when I tell them that they can now just drive to UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional for their treatments.”

Casey Peat, outpatient oncology nurse manager, said that some chemotherapy treatments require patients to have blood work done prior to receiving the drug to determine whether a patient’s immune system is strong enough for chemotherapy.

Peat said UCHealth began offering chemotherapy infusion services in Woodland Park at PPRH in mid-December, and Scott was the first patient to receive that therapy. Patients have already come from Buena Vista and Hartsel to receive therapy.

Scott will have a PET scan done in January that will show the status of the cancer. She said she and her husband read the Bible together and pray every day for guidance and strength.

“We’ve kept a promise together that no matter what comes, we will keep God with us and keep that faith,’’ she said.

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.