Information for same-sex partners
Breast cancer hasn't got anything to do with sexual preference, colour, race or religion. It strikes us all at random and we all feel the gamut of emotions that such a diagnosis arouses. – Judy
Women diagnosed with breast cancer and their female partners sometimes experience anxiety when considering whether to tell members of their medical team about their sexuality. Many women are unsure whether their health professional will be understanding and some women worry that they will be discriminated against.
Getting the right medical team
As the attitudes of health professionals vary, it’s important that you find the medical team to suit your needs as a couple. If you are unhappy about how you are being treated, or if you feel that you cannot be open about who you are, your partner might like to ask her GP for a referral to another specialist. If you are unsure where to start, the Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA) has a list of health professionals who are recommended by lesbian women.
Taking care of yourself
Taking care of your partner during her breast cancer can be challenging and upsetting. During this time it’s important that you also take time out for yourself and take care of your own health. Looking after your needs as well as those of your partner and family will help you cope better and also support your partner as best you can.
General information and support
If you are looking for further support, you might like to consider the following resources:
- BCNA’s ‘I wish I could fix it’: Supporting your partner through breast cancer booklet provides information for male and female partners of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 12 months.
- More information for partners can be found on our Caring for someone with early breast cancer page.
- You can ask your partner’s breast care nurse if she knows of any useful sources of information and support.
- Your local Cancer Council (13 11 20) may have contacts with counsellors or support groups who will be sensitive to your needs.
- Cancer Australia provides information for partners of men and women diagnosed with cancer.
- beyondblue has information on depression and anxiety, and where to get help.
Support and information for LGBTIQ people and communities
- The National LGBTI Health Alliance provides information on organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs and services focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and other sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people and communities. Call (02) 8568 1123 or visit the National LGBTI Health Alliance's website.
- The Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA) provides a list of health professionals who are recommended by lesbian and bisexual women.
- ACON is a NSW-based organisation that promotes the health and wellbeing of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. ACON provides support to women with cancer who are in same-sex partnerships. More information is located on ACON's website or you can call them on 1800 063 060.
- Switchboard Victoria Inc is a community-based not-for-profit organisation that provides a peer-based, volunteer-run support service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people and their friends, families and allies. Switchboard also runs the social support service for older LGBTQI Victorians called Out & About. Visit Switchboard Victoria Inc's website or call 1800 184 527.
- Living Proud Inc (formerly Gay & Lesbian Community Services of WA Inc) provides support, information and resources to the Western Australian gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, including a peer counselling phone line, and health and wellbeing initiatives. Visit the Living Proud Inc website or call (08) 9486 9855.
- Qlife is a national counselling and referral service for people of diverse sex, genders and sexualities. Qlife also provides an online chat (3.00 pm – 12.00 am daily) or you can call them on 1800 184 527.
- Cancer Council Helpline (13 11 20) is a free, confidential telephone information and support service.
- Cancer Connect (13 11 20) connects you with someone who has been through a similar cancer experience.
- Relationships Australia (1300 364 277) offers relationship counselling.
- Carers Australia National Carer Counselling Program (1800 242 636)
Support and support groups
- State and Territory Cancer Councils (13 11 20) may be able to put you in touch with other same-sex couples who have been through the experience of breast cancer
- You can join our online network to find others sharing a similar experience.
- The Mautner Project is an American organisation offering direct practical and support services to LGBTQ patients and their families who have been affected by cancer.
- The C-Word: A Story About the Effects of Cancer, Author: Jean Taylor.