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Information for LGBTIQ+ people diagnosed with breast cancer

Information for LGBTIQ+ people diagnosed with breast cancer

If you identify as an LGBTIQ+ person and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, BCNA has a range of resources available to help you navigate this difficult time.

BCNA’s new LGBTIQ+ content provides the information and support you might need as you navigate the different stages of your breast cancer treatment and care.

This content has been developed in consultation with a group of LGBTIQ+ consumers.

LGBTIQ+ My Journey articles

BCNA’s My Journey is a free information resource where you can access breast cancer information specific to your diagnosis in one place.

Hear from Tess, Laurie and Ro as they share their breast cancer diagnosis, the feelings they experienced as LGBTIQ+ people, and how My Journey assisted them on their own journey.

You can then browse the below 13 articles with content specific to the needs of LGBTIQ+ people:

LGBTIQ+ Body image and gender

You may experience changes to your body image and how you feel about your gender through your breast cancer journey.

Changes may relate to hair loss, mastectomy, flatness or reconstruction, fluid retention, skin marks, tattoos or scarring, ability, mobility, sexuality and intimacy. You may face decisions about your body, such as whether to go flat or have breast reconstruction.

Studies indicate that LGBTIQ+ people’s responses to treatment-related bodily changes vary widely. There are a range of ways you can manage these impacts.

Read article here.

Disclosure: Sharing information about your sexual orientation or gender with your treating team

Trusting your treating team and communicating with them openly is a key part of your breast cancer journey. For some people, sharing information about their gender, sexual orientation and/or intersex variation is an important part of their communication with their team. Others may feel anxious about sharing this information or feel that it is not necessary. Disclosure to your treating team is a personal choice.

Read article here.

Coping with cancer as an LGBTIQ+ person

Being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer can be an emotional roller-coaster because of the ups and downs that happen along the way. Finding strategies to help you cope with breast cancer is important. Your feelings of coping may be affected if you are dealing with other challenges as an LGBTIQ+ person.

Read article here.

Fertility for LGBTIQ+ people with breast cancer

Breast cancer and its treatment may reduce your choices about if, when or how you experience pregnancy. It can affect your ability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. LGBTIQ+ people have the same rights as other people to know how breast cancer may affect their fertility, to discuss fertility options and to access fertility preservation.

Read article here.

Legal issues for LGBTIQ+ people with breast cancer

LGBTIQ+ people have the same rights to safe and respectful health care as any on else with cancer. It is important to know your rights in cancer care, and what to do in the case of discrimination.

Read article here.

LGBTIQ+ friendly breast cancer services

LGBTIQ+ friendly treating teams provide services that are welcoming and inclusive for you and your partner/s or chosen family. They are also knowledgeable about your needs as an LGBTIQ+ person with breast cancer. It is not always easy to tell if your treating team will be LGBTIQ+ friendly. This article shares some tips on ways

Here are some ways you can find out.

Read article here.

Palliative care for LGBTIQ+ people with breast cancer

As an LGBTIQ+ person, you have the right to palliative care free from discrimination and harassment. Palliative and end of life care aims to maintain quality of life when there is no possibility of recovery or cure from breast cancer. The palliative care treating team focuses on treating pain and other symptoms of breast cancer, as well as providing emotional and spiritual support for you and your loved ones.

Read article here.

Sexuality and intimacy for LGBTIQ+ people with breast cancer

Physical and emotional changes associated with breast cancer may affect your body, sexuality, intimacy, desire and feelings of pleasure. You may find that sexual practices you used to enjoy are now difficult or painful. You may no longer enjoy certain parts of your body being touched, or new areas of your body may be sensitive and easily stimulated. Your body image and identity as a LGBTIQ+ person may change due to the impact of cancer treatment. These changes can affect your intimate relationships. There are things you can do to deal with these changes.

Read article here.

Social support for LGBTIQ+ people with breast cancer

Having a safe space where you can find social connection and support is important for quality of life and well being during your breast cancer journey. There are many ways that you can find social support, including from partner/s, chosen family, other family, friends and other LGBTIQ+ connections.

Read article here.

Trans and gender diverse people with breast cancer 

Trans and gender diverse (trans) people may have questions and concerns about how they will be impacted by breast cancer. These may include:

  • Will my treating team respect my affirmed gender?

  • How will cancer treatment affect my body image and gender affirmation?

  • Will I be able to access trans inclusive peer support?

You have the right to healthcare that is free from discrimination and harassment.

Read article here.

LGBTIQ+ Body image, gender and DCIS

You may experience changes to your body image and how you feel about your gender through your treatment for DCIS.

Changes may relate to lumpectomy, mastectomy, flatness or reconstruction, fluid retention, skin marks, tattoos or scarring, ability, mobility, sexuality and intimacy. You may face decisions about your body, such as whether to go flat or have breast reconstruction.

Studies indicate that LGBTIQ+ people’s responses to treatment-related bodily changes vary widely. There are a range of ways you can manage these impacts.

Read article here.

Coping with DCIS as an LGBTIQ+ person

Being diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) means you have abnormal cells in your milk ducts, but that have not spread into the breast tissue. You may need treatment, but you do not have invasive breast cancer. Being diagnosed and treated for DCIS can be an emotional roller-coaster because of the ups and downs that happen along the way. You might feel confused about what DCIS is and why, even though it is not invasive breast cancer, it is treated in a similar way. Finding strategies to help you cope with DCIS is important. Your feelings of coping may be affected if you are dealing with other challenges as an LGBTIQ+ person.

Read article here.

Breast cancer and people with an intersex variation

As a person with an intersex variation, you may have questions about how you will be impacted by breast cancer. These may include:

  • Will my treating team understand my needs as a person with an intersex variation?
  • How will breast cancer treatment affect my body and body image?
  • Will hormone therapies affect my breast cancer treatment?  
  • How can I connect with other people who have an intersex variation and breast cancer?  

You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and for cancer care to be free from discrimination and harassment. 

Read article here.

LGBTIQ+ podcasts 

Listen to our two new podcasts:

LGBTIQ+ Experiences of breast cancer and cancer care 

For this episode we were joined by Professor Jane Ussher and BCNA Consumer Representative Natalie Halse. The podcast discusses some of the key findings of the ‘Out with Cancer’ study, explores disclosure including how to come out safely, the positive benefits of disclosing to your healthcare team, and why some people are reluctant to do so. It also addresses what you can do if you experience a negative reaction from a health care professional and the support available to you. 

Listen here.

Mel & Riki

Through a rainbow Lens – Navigating breast cancer as a LGBTIQ+ couple 

For this podcast episode we focus on sharing a personal lived experience of breast cancer and were joined by LGBTIQ+ advisory member Mel and her partner Riki. The podcast discusses Mel’s breast cancer experience, how Riki supported her, the challenges the couple faced together and how they navigated the system as a LGBTIQ+ couple.

Listen here.

LGBTIQ+ online network group 

Join BCNA’s new LGBTIQ+ online network group – this private group is for people in LGBTIQ+ communities affected by breast cancer to connect with each other, ask questions and share advice.

Sign up here.

BCNA’s LGBTIQ+ statement

Despite progress in breast cancer care over the past decades, gaps and inconsistencies in the experiences of treatment and care still exist for many people. BCNA is committed to making sure our services are inclusive, welcoming, and safe for members of LGBTIQ+ communities and their support people. We also want to engage and foster relationships with these communities to bring people together and work as a collective for positive change. 

*LGBTIQ+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer. The ‘+’ sign is used to encompass other gender, sex and sexually diverse people not covered by the acronym. The BCNA LGBTIQ+ Advisory Group recommended we adopt the LGBTIQ+ acronym as it is one of the most internationally recognised letter combinations for their communities. BCNA will consider the possibility of developing resources for the asexual community, usually represented by the ‘A’ in the full acronym, in the future.

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Other Resources

Other resources available: