Breast Cancer

All women know the dangers of cancers that we are particularly at risk. We have been inundated with the information from many sides. We know that to combat these cancers, to save our lives, it is of the utmost importance that we take the necessary steps to prevent, discover and treat cancer in its earliest stages. Sadly, studies are showing that even with that knowledge we are not taking the necessary steps to save our lives. Is it lazy procrastination or stubborn disregard that makes us continue to roll the dice?

Women face high risk factors for developing cervical, ovarian and breast cancer. Our medical history can work against us and leave us feeling helpless. But we can and should integrate preventative measures into our lives to address the risks and contribute to an overall sense of health and fitness.

Issues you will need to consider include:

  • REPRODUCTIVE HISTORY: Onset of menses, childbirth and menopause all contribute to risk/health.
  • DIET: High fat, low fiber diets are a prescription for disaster.
  • WEIGHT: Being overweight increases the odds of developing cancer, and can impact risks of heart disease and diabetes among other health issues.
  • AGE: Risk for developing cancer increases with age. There’s no cure for aging, but self-tests and professional exams, such as mammography, can be followed on a regular basis to catch any trouble at its earliest.

Did you know that lesbians are at higher risk for cervical, ovarian and breast cancer? It’s true. There are four factors that put lesbians at greater risk for these cancers. They are:

  • DISCOMFORT WITH HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS: Many lesbians are uncomfortable with their physician knowing their sexual orientation; therefore they avoid preventative exams and tests that would result in early detection and remission of cancers;
  • HEALTH BENEFITS: The lack of spousal/partnership benefits provided by employers, coupled with the lower income of women, creates the inability for many lesbians to afford the benefits of preventative exams and tests;
  • EXTRA-ORDINARY VISITS: Visits to physicians for birth control or pre-natal visits are unnecessary, allowing lesbians to postpone important annual tests;
  • CHILDLESSNESS: Lesbians are less likely to give birth at all, let alone before the age of 30, that increases the risk of cervical, ovarian and breast cancers.

Financial and homophobic issues no longer have to control, and in this case end, our lives. There are clinics that provide services for preventative exams and procedures, that charge but a minimal fee based upon ability to pay. These same clinics provide lesbian-positive health care providers so that fear and pain are no longer issues in our ability to maintain our health.

Talk to your health care provider – and be honest with them. It is impossible to provide the proper health care without all of the information. If you do not trust your health care provider enough to talk honestly with them, then find a new provider. It is too important to put off or ignore.

WARNING SIGNS
Nagging cough or hoarseness.Thickening or lump in breastDischarge from nipple.Unusual bleeding or discharge.Change in bowel or bladder habits.A sore that does not heal.Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.Obvious change in a wart or mole.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
Don’t smoke. If you do, quit.Examine your breasts monthly.Avoid exposure to the sun.Eat a high fruit and fiber, low in fats diet.Visit your health care provider annually.Get a pap smear, pelvic and breast exam annually.Get a mammogram annually after the age of 35.Be honest and open with your health care provider. Without the proper information they cannot help you.THE MAUTNER PROJECT FOR LESBIANS WITH CANCER

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