Lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender people (LBT) face unique challenges after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Studies have shown that lower rates of health insurance, fear of discrimination, social isolation, and negative experiences with healthcare providers contribute to an increased risk for cancer among LBT community members. These same risk factors can then negatively impact treatment, recovery, and overall health after a cancer diagnosis. Research has also shown that social support, whether informally through friends and family or formally through group and individual therapy, can have real benefits for those living with a cancer diagnosis. Social support may reduce anxiety, stress, fatigue, depression, and the experience of pain. Support can also improve cancer patient’s follow-through with cancer treatment.
The Center’s Lesbian Cancer Initiative, SAGE, and CancerCare have teamed up to offer an 8-week cycle of free, professionally facilitated support groups and wellness workshops for LBT community members who have, or had, a cancer diagnosis. Whether it’s navigating the medical system or cancer’s effect on sexuality, self-image, and relationships, these groups offer a safe space for participants to get the support they need and share their stories.
The support group and wellness workshops are being held at the newly renovated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center at 208 West 13th Street. For the first time, a split format is being used. The first hour, 4:30pm-5:30pm, provides psychosocial support and participants are encouraged to attend the full cycle. The second hour, 5:30pm-6:30pm, provides wellness and educational workshops that are facilitated by a new presenter each week and participants are able to come on an as-desired basis. This format allows those who may not be able to make a weekly commitment to still benefit from our services and aids in customizing the wellness workshops to participants’ personal experience of cancer:
Wednesdays, February 4 – March 25
LBT Cancer Support Group 4:30pm-5:30pm
LBT Weekly Wellness Workshop 5:30pm-6:30pm
February 11: Empowering Cancer Clients with Energy Medicine, with Marjorie Fein
February 18: Legal Education and Planning, with Erica Gomez, Esq. of The Family Center
February 25: Contemplative Practice for Cancer Care, with Charles Paccione
March 4: TBD
March 11: Gentle Yoga, with Siavonh Lenaburg
March 18: I Can Breath – Writing for Healing, with Phyllis Stern
March 25: Cooking for Fun and Healing, with Cook For Your Life
Wellness workshops’ topics and facilitators have been specially selected with the needs of LBT community members in mind. By participating in the support group and/or wellness workshops, LBT community members who are living with a cancer diagnosis will benefit from engaging with a group of people who share similar concerns and experiences. Furthermore, they will be able to engage with a variety of professionals who are culturally competent, attuned to LBT specific health concerns, and willing to engage in conversations with participants that may not happen elsewhere.
If interested in learning more about the support group and wellness workshops, please call 646.556.9294 or visit www.gaycenter.org/lci. Participation is free, but an intake is required. Weekly calendar updates are also available at www.facebook.com/lcithecenter.
This post was written by Jhia Jackson, Lesbian Cancer Initiative Community Outreach Peer Intern.