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Bringing hope against cancer: Rev. Luis Cortes, of Esperanza, is united with cancer treatment centers of America in his quest to make Latinos aware of this malady.

He meets with presidents and kings who confide in him about world matters. He is sought by rock stars and has been called one of the most influential evangelicals in the country. However, one of Reverend Luis Cortes' most important missions has been to defend Latinos against cancer, leading him to be the Chairman of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America[R] (CTCA) inaugural Hispanic Advisory Council.

Cortes, the CEO of Esperanza, considered the premiere Hispanic Evangelical Network in the country, has been named by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most important Evangelicals in the nation. Esperanza is a Philadelphia-based non-profit international organization whose mission is to strengthen Hispanic communities through legal, immigration, and housing counseling programs.

Health care is a key issue in the Latino community and Cortes worries that most Hispanics take cancer lightly - until it is too late. Often, he says, cancer can be treated in time to save someone's life.

"Latinos suffer from diabetes and asthma at a level we shouldn't, and we suffer from cancer death at a level we shouldn't," says Cortes. "We are the last to go to the doctor, so more Latinas die of cervical cancer and more men die of prostate cancer than is necessary. In both cases, if found early, the survival rates would be higher."

That's where CTCA[R] comes in, Cortes says. The highly regarded network of cancer hospitals has been instrumental in not only treating Latinos for cancer, but also for creating awareness, which is key in the battle against that malady, he says.



Changing the culture for the better

Latinos often will wait until the last minute to get tested, Cortes says. A woman can feel a lump in her breast and will likely wait to see if it goes away, wasting precious days and months to be seen by doctors, he adds.

"Our cancer survival rate should be much higher than it is. It is too low because of our inability to respond to what we know we should be doing," says Cortes. "We need to educate our folks, explain to them the importance of getting tested. As you get older it's very important to get these tests. We can beat almost all of these types of cancers we are suffering from, and we need to educate our communities about prevention through a healthy lifestyle and regular screenings."

One decisive victory against cancer among Latinos was when CTCA built Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia. It was the third cancer hospital to implement the CTCA Mother Standard[R] of care, which harkens back to its founder, Richard J Stephenson, who lost his mother to cancer in 1982.

The 200,000-square foot facility formally opened its doors in 2005- It was a victory for the local community, Cortes says. The hospital is considered one of the premiere centers of its kind and continues to grow. Minorities represent 42 percent of the hospital's workforce, with Latinos representing 10 percent.

"That's unheard of in hospitals, but it's a great thing," said Cortes. "They invest in the community, and most importantly, they are helping save Hispanic lives."

That's why for Cortes, who travels all over the world working for Esperanza, being on the Hispanic Advisory Council of CTCA is very important. He understands the need for Latinos to be aware of cancer and preventative measures.
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Author:Trevino, Joseph
Publication:Latino Leaders
Geographic Code:2HOND
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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