Emotional Support for LGB People Affected by Breast Cancer
Your emotional needs as a lesbian, gay or bisexual person affected by breast cancer may be different than straight people diagnosed with the disease.
One option for emotional support is a support group. Breast cancer support groups meet on a regular basis to talk about concerns or thoughts group members may have –both related to their cancer and their lives beyond cancer.
Groups may be offered for people affected by breast cancer, people caring for someone with breast cancer or children of people with breast cancer. They may also be offered to groups of people who share an identity and have breast cancer, such as LGB individuals, young women, or men with breast cancer.
Some groups are organized by an experienced professional, like a social worker or therapist, who can help guide the discussion and point members to additional resources. Other groups may be organized by people affected by breast cancer who bring personal experience to the groups they organize.
Depending on where you live, it might be difficult to find an in-person support group specific to LGB people with breast cancer. A few organizations offer online LGB-specific groups, including some for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
The following programs offer in-person support* for LGB people affected by cancer.
General Cancer Support
- Lesbians, Bisexual Women and Transgender Cancer Survivors Support Group, CancerCare (New York City, New York)
- Lesbian Cancer Initiative, The Center (New York City, New York)
- LGBT Cancer Support Group from Fenway Health and Facing Cancer Together (Boston, Massachusetts)
- SAGE Gay and Bisexual Men With Cancer Support Group, CancerCare (New York City)
*If you know of or run an LGBT breast cancer support group, email [email protected] and we can add it to this list or our page on support resources for trans individuals.
If you do not live in or near these areas, accessing in-person support as an LGB person may be a challenge. If you know you prefer in-person support, you may be able to find it in a nearby group. Consider reaching out to
- your breast cancer care team to get a recommendation. If you’ve shared your sexual orientation with them, they may be able to refer you to a support group sensitive to your needs.
- LGB peers affected by breast or another type of cancer. Ask them if there are any in-person groups they attended and felt safe discussing their concerns and feelings.
- your local LGB community or health centers. See if any of them can refer you to support groups that are LGB-friendly.
After you find a group, consider going to a meeting to get a sense of the other members. Are people at ease with each other? Do they discuss concerns important to you? This may help you decide if you should join the group and share your sexual orientation.
You might consider talking with the support group leader. Speaking with them may also give you a sense of whether the group will be able to offer you the support you need.
If you don’t feel comfortable coming out but want support, consider joining an online group or seeking one-on-one support with a therapist, oncology social worker or other mental health professional.
Getting Support Online and Over the Phone
You may find a lot of benefit in seeking support through online groups or a phone hotline service. You may not feel as much pressure as in an in-person breast cancer support group because you can access the group from the comfort of your own home. These groups are also useful if you live in an area that has no in-person groups nearby.
Your discussions will be private. If you join an LGB-specific group, you will speak or communicate with LGB people affected by breast cancer or cancer in general.
You can seek LGB-specific online breast cancer support from
For Caregivers of LGB People Affected by Breast Cancer
If you are caring for someone with cancer, you may want to connect with others who are also balancing their own needs with caring for a loved one. You may find it helpful to talk with other caregivers—family, friends and partners—of LGB people diagnosed with breast cancer. CancerCare offers an online support group for caregivers of LGBT people affected by cancer.
Getting Professional Support
If peer support isn’t for you, you may seek more personalized support from a mental health professional such as an oncology social worker, oncology nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist or other therapist.
Professional support is often in the form of talk therapy, or one-on-one appointments during which you talk about topics important to you. These appointments are confidential, which may make you feel more comfortable discussing the issues you face as an LGB person affected by breast cancer.
You and your therapist may explore thoughts or feelings related to your breast cancer experience, including its impact on you and your intimate relationships. They may be able to help you decide how to communicate with your breast cancer care team about your sexual orientation and needs as an LGB person, or figure out ways to share your concerns without coming out.
Mental health providers vary and have different training and interests. Some focus on cancer or breast cancer; some specialize in LGB issues and needs. Others have specialties in both.