Breast cancer recently took the life of Colombian-American singer-songwriter and breast cancer awareness advocate Soraya. Only 37 years of age, her death marked the end of a six-year struggle with the disease, one that also took the life of her mother, grandmother, and maternal aunt.
Soraya challenged music industry conventions in her quest to heighten breast cancer awareness in the Latina community. She was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 2001 at the age of 31, five years after the release of her first widely successful album, “En esta noche/On a night like this.” Asserting her media savvy, Soraya filmed a two-minute video explaining her diagnosis and expressing concern for finding a cure for the disease. She told the Los Angeles Times, “ÉCertain people I worked with didn’t want me to mention the breast cancer. Sex appeal is a big part of what’s used to sell records, and they were afraid this would affect that. They were afraid it would put people off, but it did just the opposite.”
After wide dissemination of the video through both Latino and Anglo media outlets, the positive response led Soraya to realize that she could fill a void in the Latina community by serving as an educator on the issue. She began working tirelessly as a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, concentrating on promoting early detection and eliminating the cultural stigma related to the disease.