Are you a breast cancer survivor who happens to be childless?

Janet A
Janet A Member Posts: 281
I have been a member of this online network since 2014, just after my diagnosis. At a recent breast cancer seminar at a city near where I live, something hit me like it hasn't in all this time, the subject of survivors who happen to be childless. I thought to myself, "Noone talks about this. Why?"
This has led me to do my research, as you do, I found this demographic of women are at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It is explained this way, you are at a lower risk of diagnosis if you have children.
Interesting I thought, Nuns are at a higher risk of breast cancer and ovarian, not that I am a Nun but an interesting statistic that gets me thinking. Which brings me to why I am posting.
I am putting it out there in a courageous way to see if there is another like me. Courageous because for 30 years after my extensive efforts to go forth and multiply I walked away childless. The one thing I learned was to keep it to yourself as I found there were lots of people willing to give you their advice, just like they do with breast cancer 'cures', an emotive issue is best kept to yourself for your own emotional survival. 
I am running a personal survey just to see if there are other women within this network who are in the same boat as me. Does anyone else feel a little left out when sitting in a seminar and not to be included in the discussions? I tell ya, there is a real sense of alienation, but culturally we are told to, 'just get over it', which is fine and life for me has been fulfilling in spite of it all.
My GP doesn't know of another single patient like me which isn't very encouraging in finding my tribe, my mother always said I am different when all you want to do is be like everyone else. So please step forward if you are like me or if you know someone who has a similar story. 
I feel it is a subject that needs discussion and inclusion because in society we, the childless women are 1 in 5, by choice or by circumstance. 

Cheers Janet


  • Mira
    Mira Member Posts: 678
    Hi Janet, I had breast cancer but I have never had kids.  I had heard about the link to ovarian cancer but had never heard about a link to breast cancer.  I have never been to a seminar so can't comment on feeling left out :) 
  • BlackWidow
    BlackWidow Member Posts: 268
    Hello Janet.   You are not alone ! I was not able to have children (the doctors never discovered why) and have recently been diagnosed with BC.  My new-found friend who was diagnosed in 2014 was also unable to have children (due to a childhood trauma). We both dearly wanted children and yes, we do feel very left out at times as others look at us and think we were selfish in not having a family even though that was not our choice. When others have a support network of adult offspring and have that focus of a reason to keep fighting we feel very alone.
    For your survey - add two to your list.  Cheers  Anne
  • kmakm
    kmakm Member Posts: 7,974
    I sincerely hope that I don't sound patronising but I wanted to say what an impressive post this is @JanetA.
  • lrb_03
    lrb_03 Member Posts: 1,269
    Hi @Janet A. Thanks for having the courage to broach this difficult subject. I not only never had children, I have never had a long term relationship, neither through a lack of desire to do so. I find this incredibly isolating. I do have a loving and supportive network of family and friends, but at the end of the day I am alone.
    One of my areas of study over the years was breast anatomy anatomy and breastfeeding. A point I found interesting is that our breasts don't fully complete their development  until a pregnancy occurs. Even at the time, well before my bc diagnosis, I wondered about the implications and increased risk of breast cancer.
    Like you, I have learnt to keep my thoughts and feelings around these issues to myself. Others find it too uncomfortable to deal with, and it's often not worth the pain it brings me. And of course the old catch cry of "don't worry, just when you least expect it....."
    I gave up expecting it years ago.
    Again, thank you for your courage in broaching the subject. I'm sure there are many more of us around
  • Janet A
    Janet A Member Posts: 281
    Thank you for your replies and kmakm not patronizing but encouraging, took a bit to write this.
    Anne and Mira thank you for your honesty in your posts. I had four rounds of chemo, a month of radiation where I had to travel 1000 kms to get to because I live in a remote location. My partner would drive me to Mackay for treatment. I was neutropenic twice, spent New Year's Eve in hospital in 2014. So many times he fell asleep in the chair waiting for me, bless him. Didn't know a sole as I had only moved to this area 10 months previous and this was a new relationship. I am not looking for sympathy, not by a long shot, got through it, mostly alone. I think a connection with other like-minded, yes, would have helped.
    Anne, if you want or need for any conversation, buzz me! I have lots of tricks and tales to tell about getting through.

  • Janet A
    Janet A Member Posts: 281
    Irb I am giving you a virtual huge hug for sharing your experiences with me and others, thank you and yes, it is a difficult subject. I am interested to know more about your study on bc and childlessness. There doesn't seem to be too much data out there on specifics xx
  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,606
    @Janet A

    The question of children or not was part of my initial consultation with my Medical oncologist. 

    It broke my heart to learn that being without children could be a contributing factor to my BC along with the classic age group. 

    We've been through the emptiness without children and occasionally still feel it.

    When we are young we are conditioned to believe you will leave school, have fun, meet someone, marry and have kids! No mention of BC in the happy ever after!

    It's our 40th wedding anniversary this year

    Enough about me
  • LMK74
    LMK74 Member Posts: 795
    I'm 43 and childless. No partner either. It just didn't happen for me, meeting the right person that I would want children with. It can be very isolating and through this whole bc journey was mostly alone.I'm not bothered if my cancer came back as the way I see it is I'm not leaving anyone behind.
  • Kiwi Angel
    Kiwi Angel Member Posts: 1,952
    @Janet A. I’m 43 and childless by choice and met a wonderful man who didn’t want to have children either so I have been lucky to have him by my side. 
  • brightspace
    brightspace Member Posts: 448
    Hi everyone ..yep no kids either.its personal and medical
    .stats do indicate extending timeto have a child or not having  children increases risk for for a woman to have bc
    Am  lucky to have family and friends who do not query reasons for no kids
    Bright in hope
  • Janet A
    Janet A Member Posts: 281
    Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to comment on a Sunday! Reading these comments has given me a warm feeling of gratitude, I have never had a conversation such as this. Thank you!
    Does anyone have any links for further research?
  • Hopes_and_Dreams
    Hopes_and_Dreams Member Posts: 760
    I’m another one.  My husband and I would have loved to have children but it just didn’t happen.  No reason. We did IVF for 3 years which is a hell of a roller coaster in itself.  We did have 2 pregnancies which sadly ended in miscarriages at 14 and 10 weeks.  I am now 56 and family have finally stopped feeling sorry for me but, oh how hard it was when we were surrounded by all the new babies at that time!
    We are OK with being childless now and are enjoying the next generation of babies coming from all our nieces and nephews.  
    Did all the IVF drugs kick start my 100% ER/PR breast cancer? Who knows but it was something we had to do - we gave it our best shot and have no regrets.  
    It’s interesting that being childless (by choice or otherwise) isn’t something we have necessarily shared here previously and I’m quite humbled by how many of us have shared this.   Jane x

  • Sister
    Sister Member Posts: 4,960
    I do have kids so I'm not able to comment on childless by choice or by circumstance but it didn't happen until my late 30s.  I had a bad miscarriage first off which could easily have made me infertile and I also went through IVF for 18 months to get pregnant with my second child.  I remember the pain of everyone else getting pregnant.  And breastfeeding when the babies came was always a nightmare.  So, I do wonder about those things.  I am also one of the few in my close circle of friends who does have kids - most are childless by choice, and sometimes I have to admit that I envy their freedom (and spare cash).  
  • Janet A
    Janet A Member Posts: 281

    Hello Jane,
    I called Flinders Hospital in Adelaide where I did IVF and my exploratory surgeries to ask if doing the treatment could have caused my invasive lobular carcinoma. I spoke to a very nice doctor who took the time to explain and make sure I was ok about it, in fact the entire staff who assisted were lovely. Does make you wonder. I wouldn't have changed any of my past however and conceded that the ectopic pregnancy that ended nastily and following surgery probably did me in. 
    Thank you for your story, do you think if there was a support group on this forum during your treatment, presuming you have completed, would have been helpful? So many unanswered questions for us as a group of women. 
    Thank you sister for your reply, it isn't always easy to get there and I don't think you ever forget the experience and I bet you cherish your children, yes we may have spare cash, the way I am originally from Victor Harbor!
  • Sister
    Sister Member Posts: 4,960
    What did the doctor say about the IVF?  I have ILC, too.  Not that I would change a thing.  I love my monkeys and to be perfectly honest, they're the main reason I'm putting my body through all of this treatment and, as I don't have any close family left, they and my husband are it.  Love Victor and surrounding coast - one of my favourite places in the world.