Cancer Support Community Arizona annually honors a partner who makes a daily difference in the lives of people and families affected by cancer with our Spirit of Healing Award. This year, CSCAZ wants to celebrate a relatively new collaboration that is building upon the excellent care provided to patients at Valleywise Health. 

For more than a century, Valleywise Health, the state’s only public teaching hospital, has had a mission of providing excellent healthcare to traditionally underserved communities and acting as a “safety net” health care system.

The Oncology and Radiology department includes passionate medical professionals like Dr. Daniela Cocco (Breast Surgical Oncology), Dr. Natalie Ertz-Achambault (Hematology and Medical Oncology), Dr. Elizabeth Ferguson (Reconstructive Surgery), and Dr. Christina Ferraro (Breast Radiologist), as well as an experienced and dedicated oncology nursing staff. 

“They serve families facing a cancer diagnosis with compassionate care even when resources, morale, and health systems are strained,” noted CSCAZ CEO Debbie DiCarlo. “They are a shining example of how patient dignity, successful outcomes, and true health equity can be achieved within a community of care.” 

“The work of Valleywise Health’s oncology and radiology departments and its physician partners at District Medical Group is all part of our mission to provide exceptional care, without exception, to every patient, every time,” said Valleywise President & CEO Steve Purves“As a community hospital, we feel a deep sense of pride and commitment to all those who place their trust in our care.” 

In November of last year, the Valleywise Health team opened its doors to CSCAZ’s Hospital and Cancer Resource Navigators, who provide wrap-around services, bringing both emotional support and practical assistance that augments the medical care received by patients at Valleywise.

“Patients trust that we are advocating for them, so they have a voice in their treatment,” said Cancer Resource Navigator Diana Marcela Diaz. “I always tell the patients that my time is their time and I think the Valleywise Health staff appreciates the additional support.”

Diaz and Bilingual Hospital Navigators Rosa Tenorio and Jazmine Bahena helped patients with figuring out insurance coverage, securing transportation, finding financial support to help cover treatment expenses, and referring them to the always free psychosocial programs and services available at CSCAZ.  

This additional assistance gives people with cancer more control of their cancer journey – and makes them more likely to stay in compliance with their treatment and increase positive outcomes. 

“This program helps fill the gaps for those who don’t have the social connections, education, or extra financial resources it takes to navigate a course of cancer treatment,” said Juanita Francis, a CSCAZ Board Emeritus member and past Valleywise Health Foundation Board Chair, whose F2 Family Foundation is helping underwrite the pilot program at Valleywise Health. “Bilingual navigators know these patients and their needs for transportation, food and basic supplies, housing, utilities assistance, insurance coverage and other benefits. With minimal but rapid financial support from a Direct Assistance Fund the navigators remove these barriers and keep patients following their treatment plans uninterrupted – and that has saved lives.”

CSCAZ is honored to work with Valleywise Health and pleased to recognize them with our Spirit of Healing Award, which will be presented at our annual Porch Party Gala on Saturday, Oct. 22.