Famous Latinas Who Have Battled Cancer-MainPhoto
Famous Latinas Who Have Battled Cancer-Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz (Fernando Aceves/Retna Ltd.)

The Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, died on July 16, 2003, seven months after surgery for a brain tumor. The Cuban-American, who defected in 1950, was one of the most celebrated Latin-American singers in the U.S., and more than 200,000 people viewed her body lying in state in Miami. According to her wishes, she was interred with soil from Guantanamo, Cuba, the island home she was never permitted to visit after her defection.

For some of these brave women, early detection and rapid treatment has meant the difference between life with cancer and death from cancer. Still others who lost their battle did “all the right things” and succumbed to the disease despite their efforts. This month especially, Mamiverse salutes their courage and tenacity in the face of often brutal odds.