TWO VOICES: There's no hard data yet, but researchers are beginning to look at anecdotal evidence suggesting lesbians have higher rates of breast cancer than heterosexual women. Of course, no woman, whatever her sexual proclivities, enjoys that annual scrapefest and breast exam over at the gynecologist's, but heterosexuals are more likely than their lesbian sisters to show up because they need birth control. Lesbians, says Ivy Schwartz, a preventive medicine doctor in Tucson, also are less likely to have children, or to have their children after the age of 35, putting them into higher risk categories. And, they're less likely than married women to be covered under a partner's health insurance. All of which suggests that lesbians might be at greater risk for breast cancer, and at greater risk of discovering the disease when it's advanced and harder to treat.
Cancer in Two Voices, a film showing at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 13, in Room 103 of the UA Center for English as a Second Language (on North Campus Drive east of Park Avenue), chronicles the death through breast cancer of Barbara Rosenblum and the impact of the disease on her relationship with her lover, Sandra Butler. In the movie, filmed by Lucy Massie Phenix, both women speak eloquently of the meaning of the ordeal. Following the free screening, sponsored by the YWCA Lesbian Cancer Project and UA Women's Studies, there will be a panel discussion led by women with cancer and the partners of women with cancer.
The pair co-authored a book bearing the same title as the movie. Published by Spinsters Ink, the book will be on sale at the event, which will also feature a fundraising raffle offering up such goodies as massages and books.
"Barbara hoped to use this experience as a foundation for raising breast cancer awareness among lesbians," says Schwartz, who serves as chair of the Cancer Project. "Sandy thinks that is starting to happen." For information, call 621-7338.
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