Slaying Cancer and Serving Equity: Cancer’s A Drag

Activism, Outreach and Education

Catina Struble, Senior Development Manager at the American Cancer Society, is the founder of Cancer’s A Drag. Photo courtesy of Struble

“I was taking one of my kiddos to get their screenings done. The hospital system’s intake form only listed male and female. And they looked at me and said, ‘I’m not sure what to put here.’ So that was kind of my ‘aha’ moment,” says Catina Struble, Senior Development Manager at the American Cancer Society. This moment led to Struble’s further investigation, from which she learned that cancer rates far outweigh screening rates within the LGBTQ+ community.

According to the American Association of Cancer Research, gay men face over a 50% increased chance of reporting a cancer diagnosis in comparison to heterosexual men. Similarly, bisexual women face 70% increased odds of reporting a cancer diagnosis compared to heterosexual women. Cancer’s A Drag, a drag performance and fundraiser, aims to decrease these percentages. 

“We did some research and found that typically that happens because of the lack of insurance, [not] having a provider that they feel comfortable [with] or not knowing what screenings to get and when,” Struble explains. All of these barriers morphed into the opportunity for Struble to advocate for health equity in the LGBTQ+ community. 

The fundraiser began as an awareness initiative but quickly transformed into a fundraising extravaganza. On Saturday, May 18 the American Cancer Society will be hosting the second annual Cancer’s A Drag event from 6–10 pm at Venue 6SIX9. “We wanted to make it fun [and] engaging,” Struble explains. “It’s about breaking down the stigma surrounding cancer and empowering individuals to take charge of their health.”

Struble emphasizes the importance of initiatives like Cancer’s A Drag in addressing systemic issues. Each of Cancer’s A Drag’s 13 ambassadors have experienced a tragedy at the hands of cancer, increasing the demand for health equity and making this issue a passion for them. Cancer’s A Drag ambassadors act as a catalyst for fundraising and awareness and have spent hours learning all things drag directly from their drag parents. 

Cancer’s A Drag ambassador Kaleb Claypool poses with their drag mother Jaliah J at MILK+. Photo courtesy of Struble

Cancer’s A Drag ambassador Kaleb Claypool, also known by their drag name Anita Kure, holds commitments like Equality Utah’s Annual Allies Gala and the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, where he continues to advocate for diversity and inclusion. Claypool’s commitments extend to Cancer’s A Drag because of the imprint that a loved one left on them—Claypool’s best friend was diagnosed with cancer. Their love and support for a loved one facing a cancer diagnosis emphasizes strength in unity. Melissa Smith, another ambassador joining Claypool, underwent six-months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy followed by 30 days of radiation treatments. “I am joining Cancer’s A Drag to tell the world that I am the same person with or without boobs and I am not any less of a woman because my chest is flat,” says Smith. 

Through shared experiences, participants and attendees alike find strength in solidarity. “Everything is harder when you’re alone,” says Struble. “Nobody wants to feel like they’re alone when it comes to something as big as cancer.” Ultimately, the strength and support found within a larger community is worthwhile. Cancer’s A Drag serves as a beacon of support and a reminder that no one fights alone when the rest of their community is there for every step. 

Looking ahead, Struble envisions a future where Cancer’s A Drag continues to thrive, reaching greater heights of impact. “Hopefully, we meet our goal and [next year] move into a bigger space holding more people,” says Struble. She continued to express that as long as there is a demand for health equity within the LGBTQ+ community, Cancer’s A Drag will live on and hopefully become bigger and better each year. As the event enters its second year, Struble extends an invitation to all: “Come, donate, participate.” Together, we can transform the narrative surrounding cancer and create a future where everyone has access to care and support.

Support the cause by getting tickets to the event and donating to the fundraiser! Visit and join the movement towards a healthier, more inclusive tomorrow.

Read more coverage of the local drag community:
Bold & Beautiful: Ms. Jaliah J
Bold & Beautiful: Nancy Raygun