¡Vida! Cancer Survivorship Program Honored by Arizona Rural Health Association

Aug 21, 2014

 ¡Vida!an information and wellness program for cancer survivors held at the University of Arizona Cancer Center – North Campus and broadcast to sites across the state over the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) Rural Network – has received the Arizona Rural Health Association’s 2014 Inspiring Rural Health Program Award. 

The award recognizes ¡Vida! as a program that “promotes or facilitates the development of rural health delivery systems” and demonstrates “excellence in the provision of health services” to rural and other medically underserved people. 

Launched in 2008 with funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, ¡Vida! grew out of the UA Cancer Center’s work with breast cancer survivors. “They told us they wanted information to help them not just survive, but to be healthy and live well. As patients, they need and want to be well prepared to take charge of their health,” said Ana Maria Lopez, MD, MPH, ¡Vida! director, ATP medical director and a UA Cancer Center oncologist specializing in breast cancer. 

¡Vida!’s sole mission is to support patients and their clinical teams in their own communities,” Dr. Lopez added. “The Arizona Rural Health Association inspires our work. We truly are humbled by their recognition.” 

Each of the ATP’s 160 sites are able to offer ¡Vida! classes to their patients, thanks to ATP technology that enables fully interactive video-conferencing. The Arizona Health Sciences Center’s Division of Biomedical Communications also offers ¡Vida! in real-time and delayed video-streaming.

Guided by a broad-based community advisory group, ¡Vida! has been proactively addressing the information needs of patients and their families across the state of Arizona.

While ¡Vida! originally began with a focus on breast cancer survivorship, the series has evolved to include topics related to lifestyle medicine, wellness and advocacy, with the overarching goal of engaging Arizona’s citizens in their own health. 

“As patients and their families have repeatedly informed us, the cure to the stress and anxiety that their illness brings is knowledge and information,” Dr. Lopez said. 

¡Vida! also offers classes to physicians on the same topics that will later be presented to ¡Vida! participants. That way, physicians may be best prepared to answer questions raised by their patients who attend ¡Vida! classes. 

The hour-long classes are offered separately in English and in Spanish, with a movement class, to encourage exercise, in between. The sessions also include healthy snacks and beverages.

Recent ¡Vida! sessions have covered such varied topics as cancer in young women; medicinal plants of the Sonoran Desert; the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion; and breathing techniques that lead to relaxation.

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