Surviving with Pride: Obstacles and Opportunities for LGBTQ+ Cancer Survivors


This week is the fourth anniversary of same-sex marriage being legalized in the United States. It also marks the start of WorldPride, which celebrates the progress made toward LGBTQ+ equality while underscoring changes still needed. June is also National Cancer Survivor Month. One place where these communities intersect is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), an institution dedicated to exceptional patient care and inclusive outreach every day of the year.

“LGBTQ+ people deserve culturally sensitive and medically competent care, yet their experiences don’t always match this expectation,” said Nelson Sanchez, MD, an urgent care physician at MSK and member of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Network.

Unique Challenges and Personalized Resources

Curbing discrimination. Some LGBTQ+ patients are diagnosed or begin treatment later because of discrimination, cultural stigma, or lack of affordable care. Some are afraid of coming out to their treatment team. Others feel sensitive about attending a survivorship support group meeting. Making everyone who walks through the doors feel welcome is paramount at MSK — a leader in the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), compiled by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, for six years in a row.

Providing excellent, inclusive, empathetic care from diagnosis through survivorship. All year long, MSK is committed to providing support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. (Meet a few of our LGBTQ+-friendly providers.)  After treatment, the stresses or emotional or sexual difficulties of survivorship can pose additional challenges for LGBTQ+ people. MSK offers in-person or virtual survivorship resources, including a survivorship support group for LGBTQ+ survivors and caregivers.