Colombian singer-songwriter Soraya left legacy to bring breast cancer awareness

MIAMI, FL - - Latin GrammyAward-winner Soraya, who battled breast cancer and the cultural barriers to breast cancer awareness in the Latina community until her death in 2006 has left, as her final words, a powerful memoir to inspire anyone coping with the disease.

Soraya: A Life of Music, a Legacy of Hope, was written primarily as a life-saving message to Latinas and all women of color, who are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Soraya’s memoir chronicles the devastating toll breast cancer took on the beloved women in her family, including her mother, as well as her rise to fame, her fight for survival, and the battle she fought through her final hours to empower women worldwide to take charge of their breast health. Her book is available in bookstores throughout the country on October 2007. As was Soraya's wish, royalties from this book owed to her estate will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

According to the American Cancer Society, the mortality rate for breast cancer among Latinas is 20% greater than white women, and for African-Americans it’s 36% higher. This is attributed to cultural barriers, poverty, language barriers and lack of access to appropriate health care. As a result they are diagnosed much later, often at a point where treatment options and potential life-saving medical interventions are more limited.

As Soraya knew all too well, in the Latina community the subject of breast cancer is avoided for a number of culture-based reasons.

“Breast cancer is an insidious killer of about 40,000 American women per year and for lower income women, cultural barriers and access to quality care make it even more lethal,” said Susan Carter, Komen's Senior Advisor, Office of the President. “Soraya’s book is a monumental first step in underscoring some of the barriers that prevent all underserved women from getting the care they need and opening up the dialogue for better care,” added Carter.

Soraya follows the singer-songwriter's inspiring life from her early days as a Colombian-American girl growing up in New Jersey to her worldwide fame in South America, parts of Europe and here in the U.S. At the height of her career she was traveling and performing alongside superstars like Sting, Alanis Morrisette and Natalie Merchant, when she discovered a lump in her breast. Her diagnosis of the same disease that had killed her mother, grandmother and aunt created in her a sense of urgency to smother the cultural demons that put underserved women at such high risk for early death. This became her new mission in life: to give a voice to those whose cultural practices and life circumstances prevented them from speaking about the disease and seeking early treatment.

In the year before her death, Soraya was once again back on top. She had recorded her fifth album and fans in many countries lined the streets to see her, singing her songs at the top of their lungs. Other artists often requested that she lend her songwriting talent to their CDs. One of them was Ricky Martin and overnight she helped penned one of his hits, "It's Alright."

"The unique collection of photographs, memories from friends and Soraya's own words create an intimate portrait of a very passionate woman, who, in the last few years of her life, truly became a world-class humanitarian,” said Alison Glander Provost, CEO, PowerPact and the book’s editor. “It was her dying wish that her words reach women and save lives."

Soraya lost her battle with breast cancer on May 10, 2006 at age 37. Soraya: A Life of Music, a Legacy of Hope will be published by Wiley. For more information about Soraya, her mission and her music, go to

For more information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit or call 1-800 I’M AWARE.

¡Hola! Arkansas Staff Writers

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