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.