Homophobia and heterosexism in cancer care: the experiences of lesbians.
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This participatory, qualitative study examines "what is lesbian" about lesbians' experiences of cancer and cancer care. Twenty-six lesbians were interviewed about their experiences of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and support, and their feelings and perceptions about shifts in identity, body, sexuality, and relationships. This paper highlights how homophobia and heterosexism, in contemporary nursing practice and as historical features of the health-care system, shape the experiences of lesbians with cancer. A minority of participants were targeted, denied standard care, or had aspects of their identity and social context relevant to cancer care dismissed. The majority commented on the lack of attention to lesbian realities in psychosocial support. A legacy of heterosexism appears to prompt strategic efforts to avoid homophobia and also appears to foster gratitude for equitable care. Nurse educators, practitioners, and policy-makers have critical roles to play in the accessibility of cancer care.
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