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Healthcare access in the LGBTQ+ community

Breast cancer survivor and LGBTQ+ community member Crystal Skira said she worried how she would be treated when she first got the diagnosis.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — We celebrate Pride Month in June, marking the dignity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as a social group.

This month is also a reminder about the reality of health care in this community and the importance of ensuring its inclusivity. Breast cancer survivor Crystal Skira was diagnosed at stage one in 2018. 

No one ever wants to hear the words, "You have cancer." Skira said she was frightened about the future. She and her wife Amy have a young son, Vincent. 

Skira was laser-focused on parenting and watching her son grow up. She also was afraid and reticent about treatment and the medical experts who would be involved. Skira said, like many others in the LGBTQ+ community, she worried about how she would be treated.

“There is a concern of, 'Am I going to be looked at differently?'” Skira said. “Am I going to be looked at in any way unfavorably?”

As it turns out, Skira and her family had a favorable experience. In fact, Skira has joined her surgeon, Dr. Deepa Halarharvi, in raising efforts about inclusiveness and the importance of health screenings. 

Skira said it is essential to find medical experts who embrace inclusivity because early detection is vital. 

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

Breast surgeon at OhioHealth Dr. Halaharvi is leading the OhioHealth Cancer Prevention and Wellness series. It will be an opportunity for anyone looking for ways to understand and reduce your personal risk of cancer and increase your overall wellness. 

Each session will include a presentation by Dr. Halaharvi and her guests, followed by an opportunity to ask questions of the experts. You can register on the OhioHealth website.