In 2015, Compassion & Choices began a concerted effort to inform the Latino and Hispanic communities about the full breadth of end-of-life options. With its roots in California, where notable Latinos such as Dolores Huerta, Jorge Ramos and Maurico Ochmann advocated for the passage of the California End of Life Option Act, in 2017 Compassion & Choices formed the Latino Leadership Council and took this work national. The council advises Compassion & Choices to ensure that Latinos are empowered to take charge of their end-of-life care care.

This includes:

  • Lifting the voices of Latinos
  • Collaborating with leading national organizations
  • Adopting a public health model (Ecological Model) and offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and training to certified community health workers (Promotores) around advance care planning and end-of-life options
  • Identifying storytellers to share their personal experiences

Nuestra Voz, Nuestras Historias (Our Voices, Our Stories) Project: C&C’s Cross-Country Trip to Capture the Latino Perspective

The goal of this two-year project led by National Director of Community Engagement Brandi Alexander was to film Latinos speaking about various topics:

  1. The importance of end-of-life planning
  2. The power of cultural values and faith
  3. Facing dementia
  4. Latino reluctance to talk about death and medical aid in dying.


Take Action

Join us in our movement to empower more Latinos to take charge at the end of life:



Our advocates include highly respected Latinos who support increased efforts to empower the Latino community to take charge of their end-of-life experience.

Dolores Huerta, Civil Rights ActivistDolores Huerta has been a powerful advocate for ensuring that more Latinos are educated about the importance of advance care planning and the full breadth of end-of-life options including advocating for passing medical aid-in-dying laws across the country. She serves on the Latino Leadership Council and has authored op-eds, lobbied legislators, spoken at events, and traveled coast-to-coast to ensure end-of-life humanity for all. In 2022, we honored her with our first Mission and Vision Award, which will carry her name and be given annually to other advocates who share her commitment to this movement.
Mauricio Ochmann, Popular Telenovela ActorMauricio Ochmann, a member of our Latino Leadership Council, has lent his voice and star-appeal to educate Latinos about the importance of end-of-life options. He has written op-eds and appeared in videos, public service announcements and our magazine.
Jorge Ramos, Top Spanish-American News AnchorJorge Ramos, the spokesperson of nearly 12 million Latinos, was a powerful voice for passage of the California End of Life Option Act. He publicly endorsed the bill in an interview with Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s husband, before it was signed into law in October 2015. Jorge reiterated his support for authorizing medical aid in dying by writing an editorial in support of Brittany’s decision to die peacefully, and airing special news segments that exclusively focused on medical aid in dying.

Latino Leadership Council

The Latino Leadership Council represents diverse groups of professionals, community and faith leaders, and experts in the fields of medicine, estate planning, and more. They: 

  • Bring visibility to the movement through various media outlets.
  • Meet with lawmakers to advance C&C’s legislative efforts.
  • Hold webinars and events for underserved communities.
  • Secure endorsements from diverse organizations.
  • Share their stories.

Together, we will:

  • Strategize enhancements to Compassion & Choices’ policies and priorities, specific to the needs of our community.
  • Identify materials that will be needed to empower Latinos around end-of-life decision-making.
  • Reframe what end-of-life options means and correct misconceptions about  hospice and palliative care.

Latino Leadership Council


Compassion & Choices' many efforts have gained support from several leading national organizations that represent the Latino community.

OrganizationMore Information
Ventanilla de Salud logoVentanilla de Salud is a program developed by the Government of Mexico to provide reliable information on health topics, counseling and health-services referrals for Mexican and Hispanic families living in the United States. Joining forces with Ventanilla de Salud has given Compassion & Choices access, through Mexico’s entire consular network in the United States, to literally millions of people in one of our nation’s fastest-growing populations
Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing logoThe Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing aims to inspire communities to build volunteer organizations empowered to pursue social justice. Its grassroots work focuses on civic engagement, education equity, health and safety, and LGBTQIA+ equality. They believe that those most directly impacted by inequity have the knowledge to implement community-driven solutions when empowered with the tools, training and resources.
Latinos for Healthcare Equity logoLatinos for Healthcare Equity is a national organization working to improve access to quality affordable healthcare for the Latino community. They have partnered with us on efforts to educate the Latinos about advance care planning, endorsed medical aid in dying, and served as a collaborator and thought partner on our work to address inequities in end-of-life care.
The Latino Commission on AIDS logoThe Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit organization acting in response to the critical, unmet need for HIV prevention and care for Latinos. The Commission realizes its mission by spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations. The Latino Commission on AIDS has proudly served the Latino LGBTQ population and is committed to creating and promoting a safe space. The Commission founded the Hispanic Health Network, dedicated to eradicating health disparities in our the Latino community. Guillermo Chacon, its president and CEO, serves on Compassion & Choices’ Latino Leadership Council and provides guidance on the many cultural issues affecting patients and families at the end of life.
The Latinx National Task Force logoThe Latinx National Task Force is an independent grassroots coalition of national, state and local organizations/members coming together to address gaps in resources, bilingual information, data, policy and funding. Compassion & Choices partners with the task force to strategically articulate, bridge and connect Latino/Hispanic people with end-of-life care resources.
Research, Education and Access for Community Health logoResearch, Education and Access for Community Health (R.E.A.C.H.) is a nonprofit organization that provides evidenced-based research, information, development and implementation of programs to improve community health services and access to care in the state of Nevada. This collaboration aids in mass dissemination of educational materials about end-of-life care options within the Hispanic/Latino community.
The National Hispanic Council on Aging LogoThe National Hispanic Council on Aging has worked with Compassion & Choices to advance the full range of end-of-life options for nearly a decade. Their support has included translation assistance, op-eds and participation in our leadership council by their president, Dr. Yanira Cruz; an endorsement of medical aid in dying; and collaboration in our work to reduce inequities in end-of-life care.
New Mexico Community Health Worker Association/ Nuestra Salud logoNew Mexico Community Health Worker Association/ Nuestra Salud is a nonprofit organization by and for community health workers whose mission is to nurture the Community Health Worker Model to collectively improve access and quality of healthcare for people by advocating for and empowering its members. Compassion & Choices collaborates with the association by providing capacity-building training to Latino Community Health Workers/ Promotoras de Salud about end-of-life and advance healthcare planning.
Latina SHARE logoLatina SHARE is a national nonprofit organization that supports, educates and empowers anyone who has been diagnosed with women’s cancers, and provides outreach to the general public about signs and symptoms. Latina SHARE has collaborated with Compassion & Choices on the Nuestra Voz Nuestras Historias (Our Voice Our Stories) initiative to give voice to the Latino population at the end of life.
The Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth and Families logoThe Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth and Families’ mission is to develop the individual, organizational and community capacities that will enable Latinos and Mexican Americans to realize their full civic, cultural and political integration into American society in the Latino community in New York. Compassion & Choices and Coalicion Mexicana joined forces to provide capacity-building training to Latino community health workers about end-of-life and advanced healthcare planning in New York.
Howard Brown Health logoHoward Brown Health is one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ organizations. Through our partnership with their elder services program, we are able to better serve and participate in conversations regarding end-of-life care options in both English and Spanish.
HHF logoThe Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) is an award-winning nonprofit that identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. The HHF was established by the White House in 1988. Compassion & Choices is teaming up with HHF to get people talking about end-of-life planning, hospice, life support, medical power of attorney and medical aid-in-dying. Their involvement has included op-eds and a social media campaign to promote the End-of-Life Decisions Guide and Toolkit in both Spanish and English.

Isa Mendez

Dec 17, 2021, 02:01 AM
“I hope lawmakers keep their hearts open to understanding what terminally ill people are feeling and experiencing. Put themselves in our shoes and understand that in our reality, we need options.”
Isa Mendez is a member of Compassion & Choices' Latino Leadership Council and is living with stage IV cancer.
Isa Mendez is a member of Compassion & Choices' Latino Leadership Council and is living with stage IV uterine cancer.
Title : Isa Mendez
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Isa shared her story in October of 2019.

At the end of 2017, Isa Mendez had occasional spotting. Perhaps it was her strenuous spinning classes, her four-hour drives or even the long work hours of endless stress. Negative pap smears lead to a sonogram that revealed a fibroid on the top of her uterus.

Solving this health issue was a no brainer: Isa has four kids in their 20s, so removing her uterus would affect her life very little. However, surgery confirmed much more than the fibroid: a cancerous tumor that had gone undetected via pap smear and sonogram. 

“You were lucky we went in,” Isa’s doctor said. “Otherwise who knows when we would have discovered it.”

Treatment started immediately. So did the body aches, brain fog, and nausea that come hand in hand with simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation - radiation five days a week and chemo once a week. The treatments were successful and her cancer went into remission. 

Eleven months later, Isa’s doctor found a nodule in her lung. Instead of just performing a biopsy, Isa asked them to open the lung and remove whatever they found. Doctors complied and found the cancer was back.

It was time to try chemo again. She was scheduled for six sessions, with each lasting six hours. Mid-way through her chemo treatments, Isa had a PET scan to observe how she was reacting to the chemotherapy. When she went to her doctor’s appointment for the results, she saw a puzzled expression, “I looked at him and said, ‘Don’t tell me. I know.’”

Isa’s doctor responded, “I was ready to put you on remission because you are perfectly healthy in every other way, but it’s metastasized. I don’t understand why chemo didn’t work for you.”  

What started in Isa’s uterus had spread.

“My doctor gave me the option of trying immunotherapy or try 2 more cycles of chemo just to see if it might work. My cancer had spread while I was on an aggressive treatment, so I knew it would only be more torture for my body. I refused chemo and made my life decision, knowing immunotherapy could my last resource and hoping for the best.”

“Everything changed. We’re not looking for remission.” At stage 4, Isa’s new focus is to avoid her cancer from spreading further and hope that the existing tumors shrink - or at least stop growing. 

At the end of August, she started participating in a conditional approval (experimental) study of an immunotherapy treatment. The existing studies are concerning - the immunotherapy boosts the immune system, it triggers inflammation of the internal organs, which then can cause the body to attack itself - but Isa is willing to risk the potential of adverse side effects for more time with her family and friends.

“I’m fighting cancer. I’m fighting for my life, for my family. I refused to know the survival rate for my cancer diagnosis because life, as we know it, is worth living to the max, without the shadow of a number,” Isa divulged.

Isa and her family cling to hope - hoping that the immunotherapy is effective in keeping her cancer from spreading further. In the meantime, she’s focused on living each day as if it was her last. She’s building memories with her family, “If I’m not here in 2 or 3 years or whatever, I want my kids to have good memories to share with my grandkids.”

However, if her cancer reaches the point of no return and Isa faces an agonizing death, she wants to have the option of medical aid in dying. She doesn’t want a prolonged death and is willing to move to another state to access medical aid in dying, “I hope Florida lawmakers keep their hearts open to understanding what terminally ill people are feeling and experiencing. Put themselves in our shoes and understand that in our reality, we need options.”

Read More:

Univision - The powerful testimony of a woman with cancer who is now facing the coronavirus

El Diario - Conversaciones necesarias en tiempos de incertidumbre por el coronavirus

Univision - Si se agrava su salud, esta hispana quiere exigir su derecho a morir dignamente



States :
  • Florida
Communities (internal only) :
  • Latinx
Isa Mendez Headshot

In The News

  • People en Españolpublished an exclusive interview with the iconic Dolores Huerta and the Mission and Vision Award. The online story includes the video interview with Dolores and photos we provided with our logo. The story is also available on YAHOO! news.
  • EFE, a Spanish version of Associated Press, published another story, a more in-depth piece about Dolores' work throughout their career. The story, which ran in the San Diego Tribune en Español, also mentions her work for the end-of-life options movement. It also includes a photo by our storyteller Amanda Villegas, courtesy of Compassion & Choices, who shot some amazing photos at the event in Sacramento.
  • El Diario NY and La Opinion (Los Angeles) published an op-ed by Antonio Tijerino and Dr. Yanira Cruz: Let’s Create a  Culture Shift in the Way We Prepare for the End of Our Lives
  • Spanish interview with Pat Portillo with Public News Service for Spanish News Release: Group Files Motion to Intervene & Oppose Federal Suit to Invalidate CA Medical Aid-in-Dying Law
  • Los Angeles Times en Español published op-ed by Maria Otero.
  • El Diario NY published story: News Conference To Urge NY  Legislature to Pass Medical Aid in Dying Act in 2022
  • LA RAZA (Chicago) published op-ed by Nilsa Centeno: Six Years Without My Son, Miguel
  • La Opinion (LA ) published Spanish op-ed by Nilsa Centeno: Six Years Without My Son, Miguel
  • We were on the red carpet in Hollywood with Mauricio Ochmann for the premiere of his new film, mentioned in: