A cancer diagnosis like mesothelioma can be difficult for both patients and caregivers. Often, minorities with cancer and their caregivers experience more distress.
A new study has found that LGBTQI cancer patients and caregivers can reduce “minority stress.” This is possible with support from partners, friends, and family. Minority stress is chronic stress from living with an LGBTQI identity.
Facing Discrimination as a Cancer Patient
LGBTQI people experience prejudice in their lives because of their identity. This can include stigma, hostility, and violence. Add in a cancer diagnosis, and some LGBTQI cancer patients struggle with self-blame and suicidal thoughts.
The team looked at LGBTQI cancer patients and their treatment for mesothelioma. LGBTQI cancer patients fear more discrimination from doctors, nurses, and other cancer patients.
Some patients also experience rejection from their families or local communities. This places more pressure and stress on both patients and caregivers. This type of exclusion limits feelings of connection and support.
One study participant who cared for her partner said, “so, not only was she fighting cancer, she was fighting prejudice and such as well. It’s put a whole lot of extra layers of extra stress on her, on her health.”
Social Support Can Reduce the Effects of Minority Stress
The study found that having a large support network can help with feelings of minority stress. Study participants said that receiving support from family, friends, and others was “nourishing.” And it “revealed new depths of connection, love, and respect.”
LGBTQI-specific support groups can also be a positive experience for cancer patients and their carers. Participants find comfort in sharing their stories with their peers. They also fight for better treatment for LGBTQI cancer patients.
Healthcare providers and support services can help to reduce minority stress. One way is by being aware of the unique needs of LGBTQI cancer patients. It would also help to be more proactive in creating safe and inclusive spaces.
Power, R., Ussher, J. M., Perz, J., Allison, K., & Hawkey, A. J. (2022). “Surviving Discrimination by Pulling Together”: LGBTQI Cancer Patient and Carer Experiences of Minority Stress and Social Support. Frontiers in oncology, 12, 918016. https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2022.918016