About HIAYA

The Huntsman-Intermountain Adolescent and Young Adult (HIAYA) Cancer Care Program serves adolescents and young adults (AYAs) between 15 and 39 years old who have been diagnosed with cancer.

A cancer diagnosis presents different challenges for AYAs. Cancer can disrupt big milestones that commonly happen during this age range like completing school, choosing a career path, building personal relationships, and working toward emotional, social, and financial independence.

HIAYA seeks to address the unique needs of AYAs in Utah and the surround states. We currently offer:

  • AYA Patient Navigators to help guide young people through their cancer care
  • Social media connection: Facebook and Twitter @HIAYAcancer

We collaborate with many healthcare organizations to ensure AYAs receive the immediate and long-term support services necessary to meet their unique needs, including Intermountain Health Care, Primary Children’s Hospital, and community oncologists.

Meet Our Navigators

Tomoko Tsukamoto, MSN, RN

As a patient navigator, it is my desire to assist adolescent and young adult patients to make good and lasting self-care choices from the time of cancer diagnosis through life after treatment.

My professional background includes being a registered nurse and case manager for the cancer/transplant unit at Primary Children's Hospital. My nursing education includes BSN and MSN degrees from Weber State University.  I am a certified biotherapy and chemotherapy provider, and a trainer for the Pediatric End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium.

I was born and raised in Japan. My husband and I are the parents of three sons, and have two grandchildren.  We have resided in Japan, California, Washington, Kentucky, Michigan, and Utah.  We enjoy all the outdoor amenities and beauty that Utah offers.  I also enjoy participating in community cultural activities as a Koto (Japanese stringed instrument) player.

Nicole Ray, MPH, CPH, CHES

Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) facing cancer have many unique and difficult challenges. I aim to empower this young population to make informed decisions about their health by connecting them with relevant resources and services during and after their treatment.

My professional background includes health education and humanitarian project coordination. I received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in health promotion and public health from Brigham Young University, and I am certified in public health. I am also a certified health education specialist.

Originally from Utah, I moved to the east coast and grew up in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. I came back to Utah for school and have loved living here ever since. My husband and I enjoy spending time outdoors with our dog, especially hiking in beautiful southern Utah. We also enjoy volunteering at local nonprofit organizations serving refugees and immigrants.

Please feel free to reach out to our navigators with any questions or concerns you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AYA?

AYA stands for Adolescent and Young Adult. This is a group of people diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 and 39.

Why is cancer different for AYAs?

AYAs have no medical home – they feel too old for pediatric cancer care, but too young for adult cancer care (in which most patients are decades older).

AYA patients have unique emotional, physical, and practical needs that aren’t easily met through typical cancer care for children or older adults. For AYAs, cancer can interrupt school, work, marriage, fertility, parenthood, and more. Also, more young adults in their 20s are uninsured than older adults.

What is a Patient Navigator?

A Patient Navigator has special training to help AYAs with cancer manage daily life needs. Navigators answer questions and connect AYAs to hospital and community resources. In other words, the navigator helps “navigate” the healthcare system.

Who is the HIAYA Cancer Care program for?

The HIAYA Cancer Care Program is for people between the ages of 15 and 39 diagnosed with cancer as well as their support system, including caregivers.

How much money will navigation cost me?

Seeing the HIAYA Patient Navigator is free and open to the community. There is no charge.

My cancer is in remission. Can I still see the Patient Navigator?

Yes! The Patient Navigator is for people across the cancer continuum, from first diagnosis through survivorship.

Do I have to be treated at Intermountain Healthcare or Huntsman Cancer Institute?

No, this service is available to patients of any healthcare institution. While we primarily serve patients in Utah, patients can also come from nearby states.

Contact Us

Our Patient Navigators can be reached via email: aya@hci.utah.edu 

Request a Navigator