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Leonel Rodriguez: Helpful Treatment Through a Cancer Clinical Trial


Leonel Rodriguez cancer clinical trial participation

Leonel Rodriguez got some terrible news in November 2019. Doctors diagnosed Rodriguez, a South Texas resident, with mantle cell lymphoma – an aggressive, rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The first medicines he took to treat the cancer actually worsened his condition. He soon learned about a potentially beneficial clinical trial for lymphoma patients at the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. Clinical trials help researchers learn how to better slow, manage, and treat diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. “[Clinical trials were] the best way because, you know, I feel good now with the treatment,” Rodriguez said. “Now I feel I've been feeling well, and well, well.” Rodriguez’s Decision to Participate in a Clinical Trial Rodriguez has come full circle ...

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Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde: Latina Led Push for Diversity in Nursing


murillo rohde

During Hispanic Heritage Month, Salud America! is celebrating Latino trailblazers, historical figures, and inspirational stories. In this article spotlight, we will recognize Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, PhD, RN, FAAN. Dr. Murillo-Rhode was a nurse and professor who strived to serve underrepresented communities and create equal opportunities for Latinos within health professions. Early Life of Murillo-Rohde Dr. Murillo-Rhode was born in on Sept. 26, 1920, in Panama. She immigrated to San Antonio, Texas, in 1945. Born into a family of health physicians, Rohde studied to become a nurse. Dr. Murillo-Rohde earned a nursing diploma from the Medical and Surgical Hospital School of Nursing in San Antonio, Texas, according to the NYAM Center for History. Early on, she realized ...

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Franklin Chang Diaz: The First Latino in Space



In childhood, many of us gazed into the night sky to glimpse a shooting star and make a wish. For Franklin Chang Diaz, he wished to explore the stars. Chang Diaz would go on to do just that after becoming the first Latino American to go to space after he was selected by NASA in 1980. Early Life of Chang Diaz Franklin Chang Diaz was born on April 5, 1950, in San José, Costa Rica. As a child he imagined himself being launched into space to explore the planets. “Growing up in Costa Rica, Franklin Chang Díaz and his friends would put chairs sideways inside a big cardboard box in his backyard and pretend it was a rocket ship. Sitting with their backs to the ground, they would go through the countdown, imitate the launch procedures they’d heard about and, in their minds, ...

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Sgt. Billy Killebrew: Helping Kids Who Deal with Trauma in Brownsville, Texas


billy killebrew of brownsville police handle with care

Brownsville Police Sgt. Billy Killebrew knows a lot of children experience divorce, witness domestic violence, and suffer other trauma at home or in the community. He wants to help those children. So he worked with advocates to start the Handle With Care Program at the newly opened Jubilee Leadership Academy campus in Brownsville, Texas. For the program, Brownsville police notify campus leaders when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so school personnel can provide support the next day, as needed. “We never know what kids go through at home, they come to school, and sometimes they just don't feel like being there. They're in a bad mood, and just like us, as adults, you know, we have a bad day and not everybody knows a source of that bad day,” said Killebrew, the ...

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Adelita Cantu: A Latina Role Model for COVID-19 Vaccine, Infection Control


getting vaccine

Eyes wide with surprise, Adelita Cantu, PhD, RN, FAAN, pulled into the parking lot of the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing in December 2020. Media trucks populated the parking lot and reporters bustled in and out of the nursing school on a mission to capture their next headline. Adjusting her mask, Adelita took in the unexpected flurry of media, stepped out of her vehicle, and made her way into the nursing school. Inside, amid her chatting colleagues, reporters readied their pens, cameras, and microphones. Nearly a year after COVID-19 began infecting Texans – especially Latinos – Bexar County had finally gotten its hands on its first COVID-19 vaccines – and it was time to celebrate. Applause rightfully flooded the room as all eyes focused on the vaccines ...

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Javier Cintron: Future Doctor Aims to Address Health Inequities


javier cintron profile

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Javier Cintron listened intently to the Haitian man. Far from his home in Panama City, Florida, Javier was in Haiti on a research internship while pursuing his undergraduate education in biology and medical anthropology. As he heard the Haitian man describe the community’s health inequities, Javier thought about what he could do during his internship to help. That winter, Javier evaluated current efforts to improve the community’s overall nutrition and health and reported his findings to a volunteer group that would decide how to proceed. His contributions brought attention to potential root causes of health inequities in the community, such as lack of access to clean water. “They had to pay for a weekly supply of clean water,” Javier ...

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Cesar Ramirez: From Honduras to DACA, on a Mission to Be a Doctor Who Cares


Cesar Ramirez

Shiny cars screeching down the road. Grocery stores filled with bright lights and food-stuffed aisles. TV screens flickering colorfully. Cesar Ramirez stepped – mesmerized – into American life for the first time as a child. Born in rural Honduras, Ramirez only knew poverty. He lived in a one-bedroom shack with his mother and no water, electricity, or healthcare. His father, in the U.S. to work, sent money home. “We just had enough to survive, that was enough for us,” Ramirez said. Ramirez, with the support of his parents and resiliency from childhood, is now a medical student at Sam Houston State University, pursuing his dream to be a doctor who cares for patients and improving healthcare systems. He is also an intern at the Institute for Health Promotion Research ...

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Latina Warrior Beats Cancer, Saves Lives Through Education and Advocacy


Loriana and Gabriel

“The good news is, we can’t kill you trying to save you. You showed up fit to fight.” Still in shock of recent events, Loriana Hernandez-Aldama tried to process the words of world-renowned oncologist Dr. Mark Levis. In such a short period of time in January 2014, her life had completely changed. Just a few days earlier, Loriana, a married mother and TV news anchor with a successful career in Austin and Dallas, Texas, was excitedly working with her fertility doctor to have another baby. But a precautionary blood test before a traditional embryo transfer revealed a disheartening diagnosis of AML Leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer. At the advice of her doctor and healthcare connections, she kissed her then 2-year-old son, Gabriel, goodbye, and boarded a plane to Johns ...

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