Queen’s researcher creates platform to support LGBTQ2+ cancer patients

Queering Cancer website includes database, story collection, and community forum

McInnis said there’s been “lots” of positive response to the website online.
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A researcher at Queen’s is part of the team working to support LGBTQ2+ cancer patients.

Meghan McInnis, a PhD candidate in psychology at Queen’s, Amanda Bolderston at the University of Alberta, and Evan Taylor at the University of the Fraser Valley created the online Queering Cancer platform to support LGBTQ2+ cancer patients and their caregivers.

 “There is definitely a gap in the information that these patients are receiving,” McInnis said in an interview with The Journal. “They’re receiving information that’s not really specific to them. A lot of the information out there is really geared towards cisgender, heterosexual people.”

The website includes three sections: a searchable database of resources related to LGBTQ2+ cancer patients, a community support forum, and a collection of stories written by LGBTQ2+ cancer patients.

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“There’s some really great information out there, but it can be really difficult to find,” McInnis said. “We’re hoping that [by] directly putting it all in one place, it’ll be more accessible to the people who are looking for it.”

McInnis said the website is largely targeted at providing individuals with a sense of support and community in addition
to information.

“There’s definitely a lack of support groups for queer and trans people specifically to talk about their cancer experiences,” McInnis said. “So we’re hoping that this community forum will give them that space to connect with each other and share experiences.”

In 2018, the team applied for a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Gender and Health (IGH). IGH funded the team’s attendance at a Design Jam event in Vancouver, where the idea for Queering Cancer started.

The team had originally planned an in-person workshop, but McInnis said the idea evolved into a website because the team thought it would be more accessible.

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Since the website’s launch on Oct. 27, the team has received messages from health care providers asking how they can share this information with their patients.

The team has been directing healthcare providers to more healthcare-specific resources, like Rainbow Health Ontario.

“It’s been exciting to see people find our website, reach out with other resources they want us to share, or other ideas they have for us,” McInnis said. “We’ve been really happy with it so far.”

According to McInnis, the team is working on sustainability in the coming weeks to keep the website going. The database will be updated as new relevant resources come out.

The website also includes a contact form through which users can submit stories for the collection and ideas for the website.

McInnis said there’s been “lots” of positive response to the website on social media that speaks to the need for the resource.

“That was what we were hoping for: that there would be a need for it and that people who were looking for it and do have that need would be able to find it. And it seems like they are.”

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