October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while the diagnosis is devastating in and of itself, many patients also face a lesser-known challenge that can be preventable.
Consider this: a female patient is diagnosed with breast cancer and she undergoes a double mastectomy. She has a female significant other who supports her at the appointments. When the doctor talks to the patient about reconstructive surgery options, he offers only one option, immediate reconstruction. That option is the only accepted societal norm at her young age. The patient immediately feels uncomfortable, judged, and pressured in her decision making.
Sadly, patients often experience gender-based discrimination and bias, and this can impact their overall health outcomes. Where does this patient go from here? Does she have to change doctors? What is truly the best decision for her health?
One underlying issue is a lack of proper cultural competence training for the doctor. The practice should be equipped to support and provide inclusive care for all patients, and ensure this doesn’t happen again.
The immediate needs of the patient also need to be addressed. Moving forward, the patient needs a supportive network to help her through this challenging time. She needs to get unbiased guidance and care from individuals who have experienced similar challenges, and health practitioners who understand her unique needs.
Dina Proto International can assess and provide consulting services and training to teams and individuals alike. On the education and support front, Dina has founded the Inclusive Community for Breast Health (ICBH) to provide a safe inclusive space for all individuals faced with breast/chest health concerns.
ICBH was created to support LGBTQ+ folx facing breast health issues who would like inclusive support that compliments the services presently readily available to the heterosexual community while also understanding the specific needs of LGBTQ+ folx. In addition to educational topics relevant to the LGBTQ+ community, we want both patients and providers to have resources that are culturally and clinically relevant in serving the LGTQ+ patient population. Our goal is to empower patients to advocate for themselves in order to obtain care in an environment that treats the authentic self.