Vicky Viel Temperley

Ashoka Fellow
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fellow Since 2012
Related TopicsHealth & Fitness, Health care


This profile was prepared when Vicky Viel Temperley was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
While her son battled cancer, Vicky became shocked by the inadequacies of the Argentine health system in dealing with the psychological trauma caused by the disease. Recognizing that a patient’s emotional state could determine if he/she withstood or abandoned treatment, Vicky crafted a holistic treatment model for cancer patients that revolutionizes the patient experience. Chemotherapy thus becomes entwined with a wholly humanitarian approach. By integrating therapeutic and physical care, she ensures that patients and their families can have creative and psychologically fulfilling treatments. Cancer patients and their families who participate in Vicky’s program Donde Quiero Estar (Where I Want to Be) at public hospitals in Buenos Aires can take classes in creative or relaxing activities in the midst of their actual chemotherapy. All activities serve to divert their attention away from the pain of chemotherapy and help them rediscover their sense of creativity and humanity. This reinvigorates their will and persistence to continue their treatment.

The hospital institution itself transforms into a nurturing space for cancer patients through Vicky’s work. She identifies all the resources and manpower in the facility and converts it into the standard-bearers and allies for Donde quiero estar, from the oncologists to the maintenance crew. Everyone can join the classes and activities that the patients experience. This redefines the hospital as a place that cultivates a support network and a sense of solidarity; thereby reducing or eliminating the loneliness and isolation from which many patients suffer during chemotherapy. It also reconnects doctors with their patients on a deeper, more personal level that becomes crucial in helping them to regain trust and improve their patients’ well-being.

The program blossoms organically within each hospital, based on the enthusiasm of the medial professionals and the needs and wishes of the patients and their families. By giving everyone a feeling that they are vital elements of the system, Vicky has created many fans and ambassadors of the program who wish to implement it in other oncology clinics. Vicky piloted her program in Argentina’s best and biggest teaching hospital, the Hospital of Clinics at the University of Buenos Aires, and she has now built partnerships in other hospitals as well, with the hope to reach national and even international prominence.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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