While everyone is at risk for breast cancer, there’s a group of women that may be getting cancer and don’t even know it yet.

LBT women are more likely to get breast cancer than their straight counterparts. The American Cancer Society says they also skip routine healthcare checkups because of lack of insurance or discrimination from providers. Because of this, LBT women are diagnosed with cancer later in life, which makes it harder to treat.

That’s why Gilda’s Club is starting the Touched by Cancer: Women Partnering with Women series. This is the first of eight workshops educating the LBT community on the importance of early detection and screenings for cancer.

Stacey Balkanski, program director for Gilda’s Club, said that since women who partner with women don’t have regular doctor experiences like straight women do, they are missing out on vital healthcare visits.

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“Many times, a woman’s first experience with a doctor is when she goes on birth control,” Balkanski said. “If women haven’t been married or had children prior to coming out, they probably haven’t been to an OB/GYN or had regular healthcare until after age 30.”

Due to fear of discrimination or past negative experiences with healthcare providers, the American Cancer Society says this group more than others will skip routine visits, which can lead to a late cancer diagnosis.

“Susan G. Komen put out a report that one of the most underserved populations in Broward County were women who partner with other women,” Balkanski said. “I applied to Komen and other organizations for grant funding. We realized we hit a really raw topic because we were funded by all of the grants we applied for. I’ve been writing grants for 20 years and that’s never happened.”

At Friday’s event, OB/GYN Dr. Lanalee Sam will be speaking about regular checkups and early detections of breast cancer, among other cancers. The event will also have an informal Q&A, medical and mental health organizations, and local artists and entertainers on hand.

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Carol Moran, owner of Thirteen, said it’s a great cause and she thought it was another way she could give back to her community. “I am blessed that I have never had to deal with cancer but unfortunately some women aren’t as lucky,” Moran said. “This is a fun, social way for these folks to interact.”

Gilda’s Club and Cultural Anthropologist Naomi Cobb of Wilton Manors are planning the series of events to reach out to the LBT community.

“We would think women have this information because of technology but it’s not so,” Cobb said. “With all of our partners, men included, it really speaks to how valuable they see this information being to all components of our community.”

Cobb has been involved in local social and political issues since she moved to Wilton Manors 25 years ago. This program is specifically designed to reach women who partner with other women.

“Women’s health is still one of those areas where we don’t have enough information about women in all corners of our community,” she said. “It’s important to reach all women.”


If you go:

Touched by Cancer: Women Partnering with Women Series

Friday, July 29, 6-9 p.m.

Thirteen Restaurant & Bar

2390 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, Florida 33305

Cost: Free