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The Inaugural LGBTQ+ Cancer Summit Promotes Health Equity

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center empowers people with cancer awareness and screening outreach to advance health equity.

From “Cancer Prevention, Detection and Wellness Summit”

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth—the University of Miami Health System, brought free cancer screenings to South Florida’s LGBTQ+ community on Saturday, Jan. 20, in keeping with its regional outreach initiative.

The “Cancer Prevention, Detection and Wellness Summit” at The Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, Fla., was a collaborative half-day event organized with six organizations serving the LBGTQ+ community. Onsite screenings offered through Sylvester’s Game Changer mobile vehicle included cervical, colorectal, prostate and skin cancer checks.

In addition, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation offered testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and the Broward HealthPoint mobile vehicle provided blood pressure and glucose testing.

Working Collaboratively to Improve Cancer Outcomes

This event came to fruition through the joint efforts of Sylvester and its partners from Aqua Foundation for Women, BLINC (Black LGBTQ+ Liberation, Inc.), The Pride Center, SunServe and Transinclusive Group.

“The summit exemplified Sylvester’s commitment to working collaboratively with community partners to improve cancer outcomes and advance health equity,” said Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director, community outreach and engagement at Sylvester and the John K. and Judy H. Schulte Senior Endowed Chair in Cancer Research.

Emma Herbach, Ph.D., M.S., from Sylvester’s Cancer Control Training in Disparities and Equity (C-TIDE) program, said the summit provided a welcoming “one-stop” environment for individuals with health concerns.

“Along with health screenings, participants could take part in mindfulness, fitness and yoga classes, listen to a DJ and enjoy food and beverages,” she said. “We also had three educational sessions tailored to the LGBTQ+ community, giving attendees an opportunity to ask questions and learn from experts.”

University of Miami and Sylvester professionals led many of the sessions at the summit. Sylvester professionals from The Crane Lab provided information about nutrition and physical activity and the High-Risk Prevention and Wellness Program discussed hereditary cancer risk.

Additionally, HPV self-sampling among transgender populations was discussed by Makella Coudray, Ph.D., M.P.H., C.P.H., postdoctoral scholar at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. Mindfulness and yoga “snacks” were taught by community instructors Yvonne Colon (SunServe) and Betsy Nagy (Mindful Leaps).

“We serve a community disproportionately impacted by cancer, as well as other health issues,” said G. Wright Muir, co-founder and executive director of BLINC. “Usually, you would need insurance and possibly a referral for cancer screenings, so we appreciate Sylvester removing those barriers and offering services for free. BLINC was happy to help guide Sylvester’s team to ensure a gender-inclusive approach in planning and promoting an impactful summit.”

Tatiana Williams, executive director of Transinclusive Group, said, “Often times the transgender community is left out of the conversation. This event gave our transgender and nonbinary community members the opportunity to access cancer screenings at no cost.”

Community Partners in Cancer Prevention

Along with the community partners planning the event, Sylvester teams and organizations like the Pink Nail Society, Gilda’s Club, 11:11 Co-Op and the American Cancer Society brought information and services to share with attendees.

The cancer summit was one of the many ways the Pride Center strives to meet the distinct needs of the LGBTQ+ community, said Diane Pappafotis, coordinator of Women with Pride at The Pride Center.

“Working together with Sylvester and our other community partners on this event was invaluable,” she said. “The entire team from Sylvester was extremely competent and a lot of fun. I look forward to working with Sylvester again for the next event.”

SunServe’s commitment to clients transcends the daily provision of mental health and social services, said Tony Lima, CEO.

“We are devoted to ensuring that our diverse clientele, including the most marginalized communities, receives comprehensive healthcare and information on health-related issues,” he said. “This is why we consider active participation in the ‘Cancer Prevention, Detection, and Wellness Summit’ to be of paramount importance.”

“LGBTQ+ women’s health and well-being are one of our central pillars here at Aqua Foundation,” said Mateo Ventura Bruer, executive director of Aqua Foundation for Women. “We commend and thank Sylvester for organizing this event in partnership with organizations that are truly representative of our community. Thanks to Sylvester and team, people are now more empowered and able to manage their own health and cancer risk.”

Tags: cancer disparities, Dr. Erin Kobetz, LGBTQ, LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center