Community Support, Community Values: The Experiences of Lesbians Diagnosed with Cancer
- Additional Document Info
- View All
The study reported in this article was initiated in response to the paucity of literature focused on Canadian lesbians with cancer. The aims of the study were broadly defined: to increase understanding of Canadian lesbians' experiences with cancer and cancer care, and to suggest directions for change such that lesbians with cancer might be better supported by service providers and lesbian communities. The qualitative study, set in Ontario, Canada, employed a participatory action research model. Twenty-six lesbians were interviewed about their experiences of cancer and cancer care. This article reports research participants' narratives about lesbian community. Findings reveal the complex and sometimes contradictory ways that lesbian community unfolds in the lives of lesbians with cancer. While most participants experienced robust and competent community support, participants also reported instances of isolation and disconnection linked to fear of cancer, homophobia in the broader community, and patterns of exclusion within lesbian communities. As well, while lesbian community norms and values appeared to buffer the negative effects of treatment-related physical changes, such norms also manifested as prescriptions for lesbians with cancer. Findings affirmed the value of creating networks among lesbians with cancer within a context of increased accessibility to mainstream cancer services.
has subject area