This week signifies the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed each year from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating the history and culture of Americans who identify as Hispanic and/or Latino. Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in the U.S., with 57.5 million Americans identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino in 2016, in addition to more than 3 million Hispanic Americans in Puerto Rico.
At the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), we are committed to supporting and engaging with all communities in the fight against cancer, because we know that cancer does not discriminate and can affect anyone. However, the burden of cancer is not always shared equally. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 21% of deaths in 2016. Among other disparities, Hispanic/Latina women have the highest rates of cervical cancer incidence compared to other races/ethnicities, and Hispanic/Latinos are the least likely to have health insurance among any racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
ACS CAN works to reduce these disparities by increasing access to affordable health care, protecting funding for early detection and screening programs and reducing the deadly toll of tobacco products across the country.
To wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month, below we hear from two ACS CAN volunteers who engage with the Hispanic/Latino community as they dedicate time to advocating for cancer-related public policy.
Dr. Mario Landera is an Ambassador Constituent Team (ACT!) Lead in Florida and has been an ACS CAN volunteer for three years now. As a resident of South Florida, he celebrates his community by attending festivals and learning about traditions from different Spanish-speaking countries. During his recent trip to Washington, D.C. as part of ACS CAN's annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, Mario participated in numerous radio and television interviews to discuss how he met with legislators on Capitol Hill to ask for support on several of ACS CAN's priority legislative issues. These interviews were played on Spanish-speaking media channels throughout Florida and picks up nationally, spreading the word on ACS CAN's efforts and engaging with the Hispanic/Latino community.
"As an ACS CAN volunteer and Hispanic-American, I would like to take advantage of opportunities to educate those in my community about the importance of participating in cancer screenings," said Mario. "Furthermore, I would like to empower others to feel comfortable communicating with their legislators about cancer-related initiatives."
In Mario's own words, "cancer affects all languages."
Patsy Romero is also a dedicated ACS CAN volunteer, supporting the California team in the fight against cancer for the past 13 years. She participates in Hispanic Heritage Month events in her Bakersfield community each year. Patsy notes that there is a lot of potential for ACS CAN to engage with the Hispanic/Latino community in smaller cities:
"I first want to grow my team with even more dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference in the wellbeing of the Latino community," Patsy said. "There's so much I would like to do in our Hispanic community. It's all about getting the word out to the right people in the community so they can see how important advocacy is, and how they and their families will benefit."
ACS CAN will continue to celebrate, support and engage with the Hispanic/Latino community in our fight against cancer and work to reduce the burden of cancer across the nation.