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National LGBT Cancer Network Offers Free, Online Cancer Support Groups

March 2015 | National LGBT Cancer Network

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The National LGBT Cancer Network has been encouraged by the success of our Support Groups for LGBTQ survivors and are excited to announce the launch of a new online support group for gay and bisexual men cancer survivors.  We now have groups for gay and bisexual men, lesbian and bisexual women, and transgender people with cancer, and we hope our communities will help us to spread the word to survivors. 

Many LGBT cancer survivors do not feel welcome or understood in mainstream support groups, and transgender survivors have been especially excluded. There are very few LGBTQ cancer support groups across the country, and those of us who live further from major metropolitan areas are very unlikely to find one at all. In a study conducted by the Network in 2013, LGBTQ-tailored support groups were found to be the number one request of LGBTQ cancer survivors. We are hopeful that our support groups will meet the needs of our community members who cannot find support where they live.

The groups are in a message board format, available to participants 24 hours per day, seven days per week. While technology has its challenges, we feel that online groups offer some unique advantages over face-to-face groups. They allow people to log on from home, a great benefit to cancer survivors who are busy, tired, and/or have family responsibilities that make it difficult to attend an evening group. These groups may be especially valuable for LGBTQ survivors who live outside major cities and would have more trouble accessing community support. Online groups can also be more welcoming for cancer survivors with physical, visual, hearing, cognitive and/or communication disabilities. 

Our research indicates some of the topics that survivors will want to address, like coming out to providers, sex after cancer treatment, pressure for gender conformity, body image and relationships. More importantly, we are ready to learn from survivors and keep revising the groups to meet our real needs.  Each of our support groups is moderated by a licensed clinical social worker and is only accessible to registered and confirmed group participants. Anyone who applies for enrollment in our support groups will receive support, either through us or through a qualified referral.

For more information, please visit our website to fill out an enrollment form.  Please help spread the word to LGBTQ cancer survivors. Tell them that they are not alone, and that support is now available.

© 2011-2017 Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint these articles, or post them online, please e-mail us.

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