Guided by a broad-based community
advisory group, ¡Vida! has been proactively
addressing the information needs of
patients and their families across the state
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. Recent ¡Vida!
sessions have covered such varied topics as
young women and cancer, medicinal plants
of the Sonoran Desert, the Affordable Care
Act and Medicaid expansion, and breathing
techniques that lead to relaxation.
“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 says.
The program offers monthly sessions
developed for both patients and health-care
professionals. The sessions are offered
to a local audience at the University of
Arizona Health Sciences Center campus
and University of Arizona Cancer Center in
Each program is first offered to physicians
and other health-care professionals, so they
can be prepared to respond to questions
from patients who attend the ¡Vida!
sessions. The sessions for professionals
also offer continuing medical education
All of the Arizona Telemedicine Program’s
160 statewide sites are able to connect to
¡Vida! via the program’s telecommunications
technology, which allows for fully
interactive videoconferencing, or through
UA Biomedical Communications, which
facilitates real-time and delayed videostreaming.
All sessions are permanently stored, so
patients and professionals can watch
as many times as they want, at their
Both patients and health care professionals
say they appreciate the ease of learning
through ¡Vida!, as well as being able to
interact by videoconferencing with the
presenter. Patients say they feel better
prepared to ask questions and learn more,
and professionals say they feel better
prepared to address patient concerns.
Acknowledging the diversity of Arizona
communities, the patient series is offered
twice on the same day: one session in
English and one in Spanish.
“Over time, the groups began to connect,
either lingering after one session or coming
in early for the other,” Dr. Lopez says. “The
groups could not always communicate
effectively through language, but the
participants found music to be the language
that could bridge them. They began to play
music in between the sessions and move
and dance, in Tucson, in Nogales, in Payson,
and in all participating sites across Arizona.
“I think of music as the universal language,”
Dr. Lopez says. “Our participants now come
together monthly to learn together and to
celebrate health through movement!”
Ms. McHugh, who lives in Tucson, started
attending ¡Vida! meetings regularly in 2013,
on the recommendation of a social worker
who leads a support group that she attends.
In addition to being a breast cancer survivor,
she underwent surgery in May 2013 for
what turned out to be a benign ovarian
tumor – still, a frightening experience.
Last year, Ms. McHugh was asked to
serve on the ¡Vida! planning committee. “I
was delighted to have a chance to ‘pay it
forward’ to all the people who have saved
my life,” she says. Ms McHugh leads the
Ms. McHugh has gained more than
information from ¡Vida!. She and Isela
Macias, another participant, were
volunteering together on ¡Vida! when they
learned they are practically neighbors. Now
they are close friends. “It is amazing,” Ms.
McHugh says, “that the blessings that come
from ¡Vida! are so rich.”