Dr. Vershalee Shukla Draws Inspiration from her Patients

The Vincere Cancer Center in Scottsdale is a tranquil place filled with hope and support for its patients. State-of-the-art equipment coupled with a personal and customized patient approach makes each person who enters feel that their individual needs will not only be met but exceeded.

Dr. Vershalee Shukla is a radiation oncologist who is an inspiration in the community and feels her patients inspire her as well, which brings their relationship full circle. 

"One of my first patients in Arizona that I treated was a 19-year-old gentleman with a very rare form of testicular cancer. He went on to be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. His experience inspired him to learn more about medicine, and he was admitted to Harvard Medical School," she says. "This past week he matched to a radiation oncology residency. Cancer treatment is hard on patients. The treatment has lasting effects and changes the course of patients lives, but in this case for the better." 

Why is your facility ideal for patients going through a difficult journey?

Vincere Cancer Center has a nurturing, healing and calming environment. Our lobby is a tea bar, a meditative space, with signature botanical blends that help alleviate symptoms of cancer treatment and promote well-being. Our multi-disciplinary clinic contains upbeat consult and exam rooms. Our radiation center is one of the first in the world to house a vaultless linac know as Zap. Zap is the first of its kind of radiation machines to be housed without shielding; our Zap will be housed in glass. A healing pet therapy garden just behind the radiation entrance offers refuge to patients and staff alike. 

What keeps you wanting to do more and go above and beyond as a health care provider?

One of the main reasons I am a radiation oncologist is the diagnosis of a dear friend with Hodgkin’s lymphoma during college. Although she was cured, she has ongoing complications due to her treatments, such as fertility and heart stents needed. She is the reason why I ran for Woman of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the reason I sit on the board of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for the Phoenix Chapter. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a great organization that keeps the money raised locally but also contributes significant funds to research. I am grateful to be involved and support the efforts in any way I can. 

What are some projects/innovations you are excited to be working on?

One of the most important programs I worked on this year is cancer screening in first responders. I screened more than 150 first responders, both men and women, and diagnosed early lung cancer in a 42-year-old and am following more than 30 lung nodules with the goal to detect early cancer. The 42-year-old first responder’s lung cancer was detected very early, and he only required surgery.

QT ultrasound is a new emerging technology in ultrasound to image women with dense breasts. QT ultrasound was awarded more than $15 million from the National Institute of Health to develop this technology, and we plan to start offering scans at Vincere Cancer Center this May.

I am extremely honored to be working with the Dr. Deepak Chopra to bring a program called “Perfect Health Lite: Effect of Mind-Body Therapies and Ayurvedic Herbs on Breast Cancer Survivors” to Scottsdale. We tailored the program for six weeks with an emphasis on breast cancer prevention and improving quality of life.

"One of the many areas of importance to me as a medical provider is helping to promote patient well-being. It has becoming increasingly recognized in literature that meditation, yoga, healthful nutritional approaches and specific herbs can improve health and promote longevity in breast cancer survivors. We are going to be participating in a study that will examine the effects of mind-body practices on breast cancer survivors and observe their effects on the patients’ health. This will begin in October 2019 at Vincere Cancer Center, and we will start looking for participants in August 2019. We always aim to find ways to further help our patients live long, happy and healthy lives."

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