COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Breast cancer is something that can affect anyone, no matter the age, race, gender or sexual orientation.
But sometimes people in the LGBT community don’t realize they may be even more at risk and early detection can be lifesaving.
“My world stopped.”
Cindy Royce never thought she would be diagnosed with cancer.
“Thanks to my mom I always had my mammogram and that’s how I found out,” noted Cindy.
If Cindy had never had that appointment, she wouldn’t have caught it so early.
“It was found early so I was diagnosed a low-grade cancer, stage 1,” said Cindy.
Cindy and her wife, Barb now do their part to encourage other women, especially lesbian and transgender women to get screened, because no one is truly exempt.
“People think they’re not vulnerable to things sometimes.” said Barb. “Early detection is huge especially in the LGBTQ community…there is a lot of education on both sides.”
To help fund that education, pay for those mammograms, and continue breast cancer research, Barb and Cindy started a fundraiser called Burgers for Boobies. Over the years this fundraiser has provided thousands of dollars to the Komen foundation.
According to Komen, the LGBTQ community reports that the major reasons they delay or did not seek preventative care is uncertainty about how screening recommendations or a lack of cultural sensitivity from health care providers.
“People who are in LGBTQ community are looking for answers and are concerned about who they are talking to and what the reception is going to be sometimes,” said President and CEO of Columbus LifeCare Alliance, Chuck Gehring.
This is where Susan G. Komen foundation comes in. They have developed a toolkit to both educate the LGBTQ about how risk affects them and what impact gender affirming surgery or hormone treatment has on the screening guidelines. Really, the recommendations are no different than anyone else. They should talk to their provider about their risk and their screening should be personalized to their experience.
Payment should not be a barrier, but for this to work, they have worked with providers who are culturally sensitive.
“It’s understanding how they self-identify and that’s the key to the whole thing,” noted Chuck Gehring.
Patients in need of screening seeking a welcoming place that knows how to serve LGBTQ can go to LifeCare Alliance Cancer Center or the James, as validated by Equitas. Komen will cover medical care costs for the uninsured or under-insured, or those unable to utilize benefits because of how a company covers LGBTQ partners/spouses.
Barb and Cindy hope others in the LGBTQ community use the resources provided by Komen and these other providers so if there is a problem, it doesn’t become life threatening.
“I don’t think you don’t know what you can do until you start doing something,” said Barb.