In 2001, when she was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer that had spread to her liver, she didn’t despair. Instead, she became an important source of support for many Knowing she’s fortunate that the intensive treatments put her cancer in remission, she wants to be there for others on their cancer journeys.
Today she reaches out using Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, and through them corresponds with scores of patients.
She also started one of Anderson Network’s Community Outreach Groups for Corpus Christi, Texas, cancer patients and survivors. A program of the Department of Volunteer Services, the Anderson Network is an organization with support and educational services for patients, survivors, their families and caregivers.
In 2008, despite being recently diagnosed with a second primary cancer of the thyroid, Esparza was honored for her efforts as a survivor by Lance Armstrong when she received the Livestrong Challenge Award.
Educating beyond the classroom
Esparza exemplifies new modes of communication being used by M. D. Anderson to educate patients, survivors, the general public, community physicians and other health care providers through Internet modalities such as iTunes U, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
As one of M. D. Anderson’s mission areas, education takes many forms in the institution. Mentoring of students, trainees and junior faculty has become a special emphasis. Examples included here highlight TRIUMPH, the Odyssey Program and the Hawn Educational Program in Symptom Research.