About us

A recognized leader

Founded at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in 1990, the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute now includes services at many other hospitals in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. This expansion reflects a commitment to provide exceptional cancer care close to home. We use standard care guidelines across our system to make sure patients receive the same quality care no matter where they are treated.

Our approach to care

Our approach emphasizes compassionate and effective care. We offer access to the most advanced treatment and research options, and we’ll be by your side every step of the way.

Through the Institute's broad network of services, we offer:

  • care that is coordinated by a team of experts who are connected to patients' primary care doctors to provide timely communication and care close to home
  • experienced cancer care coordinators who are registered nurses who support and guide patients from diagnosis through treatment to follow-up
  • expert cancer rehabilitation services through the Courage Kenny® Rehabilitation Institute 
  • access to integrative health therapies through the nationally recognized Penny GeorgeTM Institute for Health and Healing
  • active participation in clinical research trials

Who is Virginia Piper?

Well, I have the great privilege of speaking as a family member but also as a patient. The Virginia Piper Cancer Institute was always a noble cause, and one that we all believed in because of Ginny and Bob. But I have a real different perspective on it now that I've been a patient there. And they saved my life. And it was a pretty big surgery. I had a double mastectomy, and it was pretty amazing to go in with the entire healing team in place, cheering me on.

It's one of the mysteries of cancer treatment, is the coordination of information is really hard to connect. Having experienced a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer in February of '07, it's so common to not really dial in on what's being told. I mean you're dealing emotionally on so many different levels.

I'm a shepherd in this process for patients.

She understands the whole process, from the beginning, diagnostic issues, to treatment, and beyond that.

We may not have the answer, but we work with a team of people and we are all invested in, again, getting you the best answers.

I walked into this room, there were people to greet me, there was a healing coach there. I got this robe on with a tube of warm air that I could adjust myself. I was not nervous before surgery because of that.

That was important to my father, the whole notion of holistic health care.

Through, I'm sure, many dinnertime conversations, when Ginny was very involved with the board, Bobby became active on the board, and ultimately became chair of the board.

My mother, I would almost say, was obsessed with Abbott Northwestern Hospital. She would-- we'd talk about it all the time I'd come home from school.

Virginia Piper was a person who, when you met her, you were truly in her focus.

She just had an aura of elegance about her, way back then.

She had a great sense of civic responsibility, you know. But she got joy out of it.

I would—I think everyone in my family would feel this way about my grandmother. I just feel like a steward, or like just a support system. Because the motivation for that patient care comes from the nurses and the doctors.

Boy, would Ginny be proud to see a granddaughter carrying on with such dignity, and with such intelligence, and such a warmth. She'd be very thrilled. She'd be thrilled with her entire family.

And, of course, we, you know, living in this community, I would say, multiple times a week one or the other of us are approached by somebody we know—either a friend, or friend of a friend, or somebody who recognizes us, and comes up and just tells us how grateful they are—see? It's almost choking me up.

How grateful they are to have VPCI for them.

I'm so thankful that she and my grandpa put in all the work, and corralled all their friends and colleagues into supporting the hospital. But I think my personal mission is always looking forward. Thank you for where we are, and look at all the fabulous things that we have in front of us.

I can say that a very difficult—a very difficult experience was made as wonderful as it could be, and full of grace, by going there.

Quiet confidence. That was obviously shared with Virginia and Bobby's children, that they would go out and act upon what their mother and father created. And do it in such a way that it appears seamless in the community. It's incredible to see that kind of generosity. You know that these things are being done, and they're being done with a lot of effort, but it never appears that there's a lot of heavy lifting going on. That it's just done so confidently and so quietly.

Over and over again, one of the first things people say about Virginia Piper is that she was one of the kindest people they had ever met. She radiated warmth and drew people in like a magnet. Not only did she express her care verbally, but she was there in person, helping quietly and unobtrusively, wherever there was perceived need. Hers was a charm born of genuine interest in and love for people, regardless of who they were. That trait, so central to her being, was to touch the lives of the innumerable people she encountered throughout her life, often indelibly.

For more than 25 years, Virginia was an influential force in the community. She served on Northwestern Hospital's Board of Directors and as its Board Chair from 1964-1969. Her leadership continued during the merger of Abbott and Northwestern hospitals, and Abbott Northwestern's merger with Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. She represented the hospital at regional planning meetings and served as an active fund-raiser with a keen interest in maintaining the excellence of medical and nursing education at the hospital.

The Virginia Piper Cancer Institute bears her name because, following her death from cancer in 1988, her family and friends wished to honor her and make a difference in the lives of future generations.