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16:38 PM

10TV: Breast Cancer and the LGBTQ+ Community

Going to a doctors appointment can be a nerve wracking experience for many people.  This includes members of the LGBTQ+ community who aren't always sure if it will be an inclusive, comfortable experience for them.

Crystal Skira, a member of the LGBTQ+ community said she had this concern when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in 2018.  

“There is a concern of, 'Am I going to be looked at differently?'” Skira said in an interview with 10TV anchor Tracy Townsend. “Am I going to be looked at in any way unfavorably?”

Skira told 10TV it is essential to find medical experts who embrace inclusivity, because of the importance of early detection of diseases like breast cancer.

“As an LGBTQ+ person, you have that moment where you can say, 'This is my partner, this is my wife,” she told Townsend. “It informs the treatment journey to have providers look at my wife, include her in discussions and call her my wife.”

Crystal says other concerns include "pink washing."  Breast cancer is a feminine disease and not all members of the LGBTQ+ community are comfortable around all the pink ribbons and memorabilia that can be involved.

"It's a very feminine thing and that can be uncomfortable when you're a more androgynous person," said Crystal. 

Crystal is sharing her story to encourage other LGBTQ+ people not to be afraid.  She says find a doctor you are comfortable with and make sure to stay on top of your screenings.  "Finding the right physician is a matter of life or death," said Crystal.  

Deepa Halaharvi, DO, a breast surgeon with OhioHealth Physician Group and Crystal's surgeon, will be giving a free, virtual talk on diversity and breast cancer on Wednesday, June 23 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.  The talk will focus on breast cancer in the African American and LGBTQ communities.  To register for the free "OhioHealth Virtual Cancer Wellness Series - Diversity and Breast Cancer" talk with Dr. Halaharvi, click here.  

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