Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

LGBT comment from OPAAL Trustee

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We older LGBTs are at least 5% of the adult population. We are more likely to live alone than our senior straight counterparts and our mental health and physical health needs reflect our isolation. We may live in those areas where there are large LGBT groups but most of us are not so fortunate. In the journey of living out our sexual orientation we may not have received the support of our natural families, indeed it could have been rejection or downright hostility which we had to face. So we have learned to build defensive walls around ourselves to ensure our safety. When serious illness strikes, those defensive walls have to be breached in order to receive the best treatment and support, but it is not easy for many especially when the admission of their sexuality might be involved and also be beneficial. In such situations empathic advocacy is so vital, especially for single LGBTs.

When my partner was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma we had each other to help with jumping over the many hurdles which service provision faced us with. Heaven knows how he would have coped had he been alone.

Advocacy enables people to cope with diagnosis and treatment when they face perhaps their worst times. For LGBT people it can be not just a valuable extra but the very key to their ability to cope.

Roger Newman
OPAAL Trustee

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Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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