Malecare’s “Out with Cancer” program offers online support for all LGBT people
By Adam Young
Malecare was initially founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing psycho-social support to gay men diagnosed with cancer. The New York City based international volunteer organization grew so much that in 2005, a program was spun off to offer in-person and online support to all LGBT people.
The LGBT Cancer Project: Out with Cancer was established to provide resources and support to diagnosed individuals. Another objective is to foster cultural awareness among medical professionals who treat LGBT people. “One of the things we do is work with doctors to bring them up to speed with who we are,” said Darryl Mitteldorf, LCSW, Executive Director of Malecare.
According to Mitteldorf, anal cancer is 17 times more common in gay men than straight men. An increased rate of smoking may also lead to certain cancers being more prevalent in the LGBT community, Mitteldorf said. However, there is no data to suggest that prostate cancer is more prevalent in gay men than straight men.
Mitteldorf stresses that medical providers have to ask pertinent questions in order to understand what lifestyle factors may play a role in cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. “By doing benign and kind intervention with these doctors, we help them to understand that cancer survivors within our community do in fact present in a slightly different way in terms of needs,” Mitteldorf said.
On the Out with Cancer website at www.outwithcancer.com, people can register with the site to begin posting questions and take part in discussions with other members. Members feel comfortable there because they can post and discuss anonymously across economic and geographic boundaries, Mitteldorf said. Website users have also exchanged contact information to talk over the phone. “It shows each individual that they’re really not alone,” Mitteldorf said.
The Out with Cancer website also offers a database of clinical trials, organized by type of cancer. Out with Cancer’s parent organization, Malecare, also offers other programs, such as Twice as Many, a national advocacy program for African American men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Malecare plans to offer a more personalized approach to care by emailing a tailored “flash” newsletter to members with specific diagnoses beginning in the fall. According to Mitteldorf, the malecare.org and outwithcancer.com websites are also due for an upgrade by the end of the year. Mitteldorf, a social worker himself, is proud of the variety of medical professionals who volunteer their time with Malecare and Out with Cancer, including doctors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
For more information about the different programs offered by Malecare, visit http://www.malecare.org. For more information about support through the LGBT Cancer Project: Out with Cancer, visit http://www.outwithcancer.com/.