This month is all about celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community and spreading awareness.
We spoke with Black Women Rising members, Kayon Cox and Miranda Ashley about their cancer journeys and how medical professionals can be more inclusive to those in the LGBTQIA+ community who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Kayon Cox, 39, DCIS Breast Cancer
Kayon recalls her breast cancer journey started with an uncomfortable feeling on her breast. After weaning her two-year old, she noticed it was uncomfortable to wear bras due to the pain in her breast.
After an initial mammogram and ultrasound, Kayon was told that there was nothing unusual. She was recommended to get a biopsy done and it was after this that she was told she had cancer. This was also during the pandemic, and she attended appointments alone. “I went into survival mode, no real time to sit with it… it was just what’s next,” she says.
After a double mastectomy, Kayon has been cancer free for over a year but still notes that she often feels like she’s still in survivor mode. “I’m working on my mental health, it was major,” she says “It was life changing not just for me but for my daughter.”
When asked what advice she would give to clinicians treating black LGBTQIA+ patients she advises, “Listen to patients when they speak about the concerns they have with their bodies, and to always ask pronouns before assuming.” She notes that the more comfortable and seen you can make a patient feel the more information and insight you will gain.
What does Pride month mean to Kayon? Love and authenticity. “It means having the courage, bravery and confidence to live your truest self.”
Miranda Ashitey, 41, Secondary Breast Cancer
Miranda was first diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2014 when she was 32 years old. She was then diagnosed in February 2019 with secondary breast cancer at age 37.
Miranda had sound advice when it came to how clinicians could better care for LGBTQIA+ patients of colour. “Everyone has their own journey. One story isn’t better or worse than another, just different. We all have different needs and our ethnicity and sexuality are intersectional,” she says.
She notes that clinicians can show their support and make patients feel more comfortable by wearing rainbow lanyards, clinicians could also display which pronouns they use on their name badges and they can make sure to ask patients which pronouns they prefer. “Listening is key and showing support can make all the difference,” she adds.
When asked what Pride month means to her, she said, “Everyday is Pride month.” Miranda also notes that Pride month started as a protest and that this is something she thinks has been forgotten. She also says that there is still a way to go for corporations and other organisations to truly show their support.