Cancer patient turns chemotherapy into a party

Faced with stage four breast cancer and no cure, Ann Shaw was coping the best way she knew. She threw a party.

This story originally aired on April 17, 2016. Since then, Ann has dressed up for her twice-monthly chemo treatments. She has now been living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for 10 years, long enough to see the birth of Arlo, her first grandchild. She has another grandchild on the way. Sadly, Ann’s husband Mark died of his cancer in 2019. His son and daughter-in-law held their wedding at Methodist Hospital for him to attend, just days before his death.

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. – Faced with stage four breast cancer and no cure, Ann Shaw coped in the best way she knew. She threw a party.

“Every week that I’m here, it’s a week that I might not have had,” Shaw says, “so let’s celebrate that.”

Over the past two years, Shaw has thrown 68 parties in a small treatment room at Methodist Hospital’s Frauenshuh Cancer Center – each with a different movie theme.

Shaw’s party themes included The Wizard of Oz, Minions, School of Rock, and Grumpy Old Men. Each features costumes, decorations, treats, and board games.

“We’re always happy to guess what she’s bringing,” says Rachel Jones, a medical receptionist at Methodist Hospital.

A steady stream of doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers flock to Shaw’s parties during her four-hour chemo visits.

“I’ve never met a patient who is so enthusiastic about chemotherapy,” says Mary Strand, one of Shaw’s doctors.

Shaw first battled breast cancer at the age of 48. She remained cancer-free for 14 years until it aggressively returned.

Although her chemo regimen has been successful in preventing her cancer from spreading, it is not expected to cure her. She considers every extra week alive a cause for a party.

“So we spend the week getting ready instead of worrying about getting in for treatment, which is a lot better,” Shaw says.

Last year Shaw’s husband Mark had his own movie party when he was diagnosed with cancer himself. Mark Shaw was invited to a Batman party the day he received a stem cell transplant. He is now cancer free.

“It’s just party on,” he says. “You just have to have fun.”

Ann Shaw doesn’t ignore the power of fun.

“It has to be the partying that keeps us going,” she says. Cancer patient turns chemotherapy into a party

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