Ysabel Duron

Ysabel Duron , Latinas Contra Cancer
Founder and Executive Director
Latinas Contra Cancer
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

When her doctor told her she had cancer, Ysabel Duron didn’t think she would die. Her first impulse was to wonder what she was supposed to get out of the experience. Her second was to do a story.

The longtime local television news anchor in San Francisco delved into her own illness, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with an award-winning, three-part broadcast series called “Life with Cancer.” Of Mexican descent herself, Duron discovered a troubling lack of cultural and Spanish-language resources for low-income Latinos, who are less likely to undergo screening and seek medical care, and more likely to be diagnosed at later stages – a deadly mix.

Out of that experience grew the creation of Latinas Contra Cancer (Latinas Against Cancer), which since 2003 has provided counseling services for cancer patients who are typically neglected by the health care system.

The organization offers multiple Spanish-language support groups, case management, educational workshops and a bilingual resources website, which has gotten more than 2 million hits. Latinas Contra Cancer has educated more than 1,500 people, promoted screenings and provided transportation, medication and social services. In some cases, clients have received airline tickets to go home to Mexico to die surrounded by family.

In 2008, Latinas Contra Cancer launched the National Latino Cancer Summit. Held every other year, the event brings together researchers, community-based agencies, health care providers and others to network, collaborate and understand the burden of cancer on the Latino community.

“The inroads we have made to turn the ‘big C’ into the ‘little c’ have diminished fear, increased awareness, and provided support and comfort,” Duron says.