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From Fluke to Survivor: How Angelina Vazquez Felsing is Contributing to Latino Cancer Research



“It was kind of a fluke.”  That’s how Angelina Vazquez Felsing describes the events that led to her diagnosis of lung cancer.   Like many, Vazquez Felsing maintained a healthy lifestyle. She didn’t smoke. She ate healthy, ran regularly, and had no family history of cancer.   Vazquez Felsing, who immigrated from Mazatlán, Mexico, in 1972, grew up in the Floresville area and has lived in San Antonio for many years.   It all started when Vazquez Felsing went to her yearly checkup through the wellness program at her job, where she has worked as a systems analyst for 17 years.  “They found something that was a little bit odd. They said, ‘Well come back in a year, and we'll do another CT scan,’” she said. “And when I went back, they found that whatever ...

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Adan Reinosa: Colorectal Cancer Survivor Pays it Forward with Study Participation


Adan Reinosa Rivera NCI colorectal cancer survivor - featured

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among people of Hispanic and Latino descent in the United States. Adan Reinosa Rivera, a retired electrical engineer in Los Angeles, is doing his part to change that. Mr. Reinosa has been living with metastatic colorectal cancer for more than a decade. The cancer was detected in his lungs a few months after a tumor was removed from his colon. He’s been managing the disease with his doctor ever since. Now, as the first participant in a genetic study called ENLACEExit Disclaimer, Mr. Reinosa is helping to build a body of knowledge about the molecular features of colorectal cancers in Hispanic and Latino people. The study, supported by the Cancer MoonshotSM, aims to learn more about the disease in people of Hispanic and ...

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Dr. Jorge Moreno: Infection Control Hero for Spanish-Speaking Latinos and All Patients



Late nights studying had become the norm for young Jorge Moreno. While he poured over his college textbooks, Jorge recalled the dream he’d had since he was very young – becoming a doctor – and he pushed himself to strive forward. “Échale ganas,” Jorge’s father would say in encouragement (“give it your all,” in English). With the support of his family and mentors, Jorge would go on to achieve his dreams and more. He would become a board-certified internal medicine and obesity medicine physician, and an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine. In this position, he would also become a liaison for the Latino community during the COVID-19 pandemic and play a critical role in infection control in both the community and clinical ...

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Dr. David Acosta: Meeting the Need for Latinos in Medicine



Growing up, David Acosta was blessed to be part of a loving Latino family with his mother and father, four brothers, and an abuelita in Southern California.   They found joy in helping each other and others.  Acosta realized in childhood he wanted to choose a future career that would bring joy to others – he decided to become a doctor.  "I knew from an early age that I wanted to go into medicine and help out,” Acosta said. “My family [was] probably most instrumental in me going down this path.”  Acosta went on to get his medical degree, practice medicine, and now serves as chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).    But his path wasn’t always easy.  The Cultural Side of Medicine   Acosta was ...

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Afro-Latina Denice Cora-Bramble Dedicated to Equitable Pediatric Care, Diversity


Dr. Cora-Bramble

Dr. Denice Cora-Bramble loves children. From an early age, she knew that she wanted to be a pediatrician. Her professional child-focused journey has culminated a long and successful career at Children’s National Hospital where she currently serves as the inaugural chief diversity officer. “I’ve always been intrigued by children,” Dr. Cora-Bramble said with a contagious smile. "They're interesting little people.” Growing up in Puerto Rico, Dr. Cora-Bramble was introduced to medicine as a child. Her aunt, who she admired greatly, was an OBGYN and one of just five females in her medical school cohort. “She was also a mother of five,” Dr. Cora-Bramble said. “I admired how she managed being a mother and being a physician; she was a great inspiration for me ...

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Gabriela Mistral: First Latina to Win the Nobel Prize in Literature



Gabriela Mistral, born as Lucila Godoy Alcayaga in Chile, was the first Latina author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945.  Her poems explore deeply cultural issues of spirituality, heartbreak, death, and childhood.   But beyond her verse and prose, Mistral also changed lives in Latin America and beyond through advocacy, education, and diplomacy.  “She tried to speak for [the disadvantaged] through her poetry, her many newspaper articles, her letters, and her talks and actions as Chilean representative in international organizations,” according to the Poetry Foundation. “Above all, she was concerned about the future of Latin America and its peoples and cultures, particularly those of the native groups.”  Gabriela Mistral – Her Early Life  Born in ...

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Honoring ‘Godmother of Mariachi’ Music Isabel (Belle) Ortiz


Isabel Ortiz mariachi music

Mariachi music is a hallmark of Latino culture. Generations of Latinos listen to mariachis – a small Mexican musical ensemble of mostly stringed instruments – and continue to pass on this beautiful part of Latino culture to future generations. Isabel (Belle) Ortiz, who passed away in July 2023 at age 90, was one of those people dedicated to teaching and sharing mariachi music with others. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re celebrating Belle’s life work bringing mariachi music to the forefront of music education. A Trailblazer in Mariachi Music Education Belle, nicknamed the “Godmother of Mariachi,” grew up on the west side of San Antonio. She was musically talented and passionate about mariachi from a young age. Throughout her childhood, she ...

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Rosa Escalante Lopez: Resilient Latina Overcomes Health Crisis to Help Latinos Heal Invisible Wounds



A young Rosa Escalante Lopez curiously looked around the therapist’s room as her mother and the therapist chatted in Spanish. “The elementary school thinks she may have a learning disability,” Rosa’s mother said. “She’s struggling in math.” “According to my evaluation, your daughter is developing normally,” the therapist said with a smile. “She can continue to the next grade; she may just need extra tutoring in her math class.” As the two continued to talk, Rosa reflected on her session with the therapist. She was fascinated with the idea of helping people heal a wound that may not be visible, such as a learning disability or a mental health condition. “In my last year of elementary school, I remember thinking, ‘I'm going to be a psychologist and ...

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Banker Turned Psychiatrist: How Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. Found His Calling


Dr. Martinez cover

“Now remember, you must return your books on time,” said the librarian at the local public library in Austin, Texas. She peered down at 6-year-old Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., who eagerly nodded in agreement. She smiled and handed the child his first library card. From there, Octavio fell in love. Hard. He loved books and became a ferocious reader. With each page turn, his passion for learning grew. By the time he reached sixth grade, he knew he was destined for college and had even earned the nickname “professor” among his friends. Now a grown man, Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. has since earned four college degrees, including a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health. He is also one of the nation’s leading mental health advocates and philanthropists, ...

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