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

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  • annsanannsan Member Posts: 46
    @Janet A, thank you for your offer of help.  I will let you know for sure, in fact I am quite sure I will need it.  I think you and I have the same sister as mine does and says the exact same things that yours did!! I am really interested in finding out more information about the correlation between nulliparous women and BC and how being childless affects us during this time and other phases in life, i.e. growing older. I would love to join a chat that is specifically for women without children. I am sure we can offer support to each other.  I have just been chatting with a Doctor who is a friend of mine and she said the following:  "not breast feeding has been considered a risk factor for breast cancer not the fact of not having children" and that "Not having children (nuns disease) is a risk factor for endometrial cancer", "Breast feeding has always been cited as protective but there is meant to be a window period where breast feeding in ones 30’s may be worse than not breast feeding at all. However this is not the case in all breast cancers Nor is it even proven just a theory". I hope this information is of some interest. Regards, Ann.
  • jenajena Ashby NSWMember Posts: 83
    Hi @Janet. I am 59 and childless by choice. I was diagnosed with early breast cancer in 2014 then on 1May 2017, with metastatic breast cancer. 

    I have a loving long term partner a marvellous family and some very dear old friends who are always there if needed.   My brother, who lives about an 8hr drive away, would be here tomorrow if I needed him for anything. Same with my sister, until March this year when she was diagnosed with early breast cancer. The only cancer known of in my family was my Dad’s grandmother who had breast cancer.  My sister was diagnosis with a different cancer to mine ... what rotten luck is that!  

    Despite the ghastly reality of living with metastatic breast cancer, I am blessed in have an amazing support network. 

    Try being queer and childless in the VERY staight world of the bc network.  Rayleen Boyle was a welcome breath of fresh air when I heard her speak at an event in Ballina last year. Nice not to be the only queer gal in the room for a change.  Most information and events effectively exclude my existence.  I’m used to it but it would be good to meet other queer woman living with bc and to be included in at least the odd discussion.

    Thank you for your efforts Janet. Good on you for highlighting the issue. Even though some of the women here are not childless by choice, I sure we all feel happy and fulfilled in different ways to those with kids. I’m certainly happy with my choice and have never had a moments regret.


  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,431
    I started following this thread due to the IVF bits and I'm an imposter because I do have kids so feel free to tell me to get off if I'm coming in with my Size 10s (actually more like 11s) where I'm not wanted.
    A lot of us talk about our kids because they a)take so much energy and time, and b)we're so scared of leaving them prematurely.  I really hope that it doesn't seem like we're making it a less than welcoming place for childless people (by choice or circumstance).  As I mentioned earlier in this discussion, many of my friends are childless, mostly by choice, and it has never been a dividing factor in our friendships, nor in the support that we give each other.  My longest time, closest friend is both childless and a lesbian.  When she came out in her 30s (after years of soul-searching and tears), I went to all the gay bars and her first support group with her as she knew no-one on the scene, so I know, second-hand, how hard it can be to feel that the world is set up for others @jena.  Please don't ever feel on this network that you're excluded on the basis of sexuality or childlessness.  As far as I'm concerned, you're another woman who has navigated her way to the age she is as best she can - and that's all you can say for any of us.
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,916
    @sister amazing words. I am 43 and childless by choice and if I could of had my tubes tied in my 30’s I probably would of as I have never been maternal. In my mid 20’s I copped a lot of flack for not wanting to have children and was always told that I “had to have 1” or “it’s different when it’s hour own”. I’m happy now that the landscape has changed somewhat and when clients at work ask if I have kids there are more positive responses than not. It’s pretty disturbing to think that my decision to not have children could of contributed to me having breast cancer but life is a roll of the dice and you have to live your life the way that makes u happy. 
  • Janet AJanet A Member Posts: 225
    Thank you for the further comments, I keep thanking everyone because reading all this feedback gives me a heart so full! At first, I was very cautious in saying anything, sitting in the seminar that day with the speaker giving great advice to women with families with ideas for supporting them, where to go what to do. Mentioning my situation to one of the speakers left her speechless, she hadn't thought about it, I must say she was a great speaker and to her credit, at the end of the day, she made mention of the childless women in the room. And now knowing the risks of childlessness and bc just makes it silly not giving mention, doesn't it? This is my motivation. 

    @jena. thank you for sharing your story and I am so pleased you have a great support network. You hit the nail on the head, to be included in the conversation. The more we talk about it I feel, will change the perception of the minority and hopefully, we can openly talk about our situation without looking like the weirdo in the room.

    @Sister I guess we wish for subjects to be discussed that are relevant to our situation in learning about coping mechanisms with the lack of support in not having a family, the risks for our demographic group, and for me living in a remote area after moving just before diagnosis. I called all the support services in my area and there was nothing that I could relate to, sure I could sit in on some which I did but found myself having nothing to contribute so I stopped going. I don't expect special treatment which unfortunately is how it was perceived. 
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,431
    Nor should it be considered special circumstances @Janet A 
  • AllyJayAllyJay Member Posts: 606
    Very interesting thread here. I too was a square peg in a round hole in one regard. I was a teenager, 42 years ago, when I was forced into relinquishing my firstborn daughter to adoption. I was a mother, but I wasn't. Society treated me and my ilk like pariahs...I mean really...what kind of mother would give her child away?? Not even a dog would let you take her puppies...such and much more in that vein was overheard in conversations. "Real" mothers who had lost their babies to stillbirth, miscarriage or neonatal death were supported. Cards of condolence, flowers, visits and companionship were and are common. However for relinquishing mothers of past generations there was nothing. No support of any kind, just vicious condemnation. We never know who is in the room and what hats they wear and thus how our conversations may affect others. I suspect there may even be some transgender folks sitting on the sidelines of this group, If not now, possibly in the future. My DIL has a sibling who is transgender (female to male) who has many friends in the trans world. I worry for them about all the hormones both camps take and the possible future ramifications to them as far as cancer goes. I did pull Lee's leg when he returned from Thailand after having both breasts removed, that he could have put them in a Jiffy Bag and brought them home for me. It was quite strange really, I'd lost my breasts  unhappily, and Lee was so delighted and relieved to have  the body (upper at least) which fitted. All about perspective.
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,916
    @AllyJay I’m so sorry to hear u were treated like that - people can be so cruel. I would love to live in a world where people were accepted just because they are a good person regardless of sexual orientation, gender, colour or any of the personal decisions we that we make in our lives. 
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 3,212
    @annsan  Wishing you all the best for your ongoing treatment - you sure have been thru the mill for so many years!  :(  Big Hugs coming your way from me!  xx

    I wonder if they have done extensive research on mothers who DIDN'T breastfeed that went on to get BC - what the statistics are?   Maybe we should do a poll?  1) No children, never pregnant.  2)  No children, miscarriages.  3) Children, didn't breast feed.  4) Children, breast fed.

     .....  I think you and I have the same sister as mine does and says the exact same things that yours did!! ....  OMG - that is MY sister as well!!  She is currently telling my brother that I am FINE (after visiting for 1 week over easter) - that there is nothing wrong with me & she knows sweet F*CK ALL about what I've been thru and about to go thru with Tamoxifen or whatever tablets I end up on, let alone the psychological impact of it all!  Which surprises me, as she has suffered from migraines & major depression for most of her life & expects sympathy or at least 'understanding' from everyone else!!

    Your observation re being the youngest sibling with the older sister having no problems with fertility is a brilliant observation!  YES  - THAT IS also ME!  My sister has 4 children & would have had more except for miscarriages.

    @AllyJay
    How sad - yes, people can be SO cruel.  The forced separation of mothers & babies and stigma attached (particularly from WW2 on) is so much more out in the open now - and let's face it .... but for the grace of god (and an awful lot of luck ....) it could have been any one of us!!  I had a 'pregnancy scare' after my first sexual experience - lucky for me it didn't happen (I was just late!)  I have a fair idea of what I WOULD have done, had it happened ... 

    BC (and all cancers) are totally non discriminatory - and none of us are here by choice - but it is just terrific having the support of fellow BCers here on BCNA - where we can vent our feelings & fears.   HUGS ALL ROUND!

    @jena  Raelene Boyle is a fantastic role  model in everything she currently does & has done in her life.  It is a shame that some people try to compartmentalise things and people ..... Rich Poor, Tall Short, Beautiful Ugly, Gay Straight ..... it just shows their own ignorance & intolerance!  :(    I'd be very surprised if you are the only Gay Girl on the forum .... so hold your head high anyway! xx



  • Janet AJanet A Member Posts: 225
    Here are a couple of links Marianne sent me recently. I thought might be of interest to you. The reason for this post has been to gain information relevant to our situation. Let me know your thoughts on how many think this is a good idea.....

    In regards to the possible impact of fertility treatment on breast cancer, I have two links that may be of interest to you

    https://www.varta.org.au/sites/varta/files/Possible%20health%20effects%20of%20IVF%20-%20April%202016_0.pdf
    This is the peak IVF organisation in Victoria

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2533505

    This article is based on a large number of women who undertook IVF in the early days of IVF in the Netherlands (and its a recent study) so I thought it might be of interest to you.

    I have been trying to get more relevant links but so far I am finding it a little difficult to find. If anyone has any interesting info to share, greatly appreciated!

    Cheers Janet
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 3,212
    edited May 2018
    Interesting, @Janet A .... I wonder how many of us 'childless women' just never really 'needed' children?  I would put myself in that category.  

    I never expected to get married - my 'mother role models' weren't great - a blood mother who pissed off with another bloke when I was 2 (with 3 older siblings under 5) and a step mother who shafted us after our father left her VERY WELL OFF at our expense (we paid the mortgage on the family home out of our share of our father's will) - with her leaving 'our legacy' to her own children - plus just being a bit of a bitch at numerous times, even tho our 'family history' lasted 50+ years! Luckily, a friend's Mum (who took me under her wing when I attended college with her daughter) was a wonderful example of what a mother/family could actually be ......  Maybe this put a slanted interpretation on my desire to have kids?

    I never actively tried to have kids & I wasn't particularly upset that when I finally went off birth control and I didn't fall pregnant.  As a youngster not long out of school, I had a 'scare' when I thought I may have been pregnant in my first sexual encounter - luckily I wasn't - but I was also pretty sure of the course of action I would take if I HAD been pregnant ..... and being totally honest, it wouldn't have involved having a child without a committed partner!

    Sure, with an older husband (15 years older than me) I have to accept the fact that I will be 'on my own' in my old age & will have to organise my 'old age' life accordingly  ...... tho I do have one stepson & wife (my husband's adopted son) with whom I have a lovely relationship - but they live in NZ .... so I can't rely on them to look after me ....


  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,655
    @arpie I have an older husband too, by nine years. I am his second wife. I like to refer to myself as a 'trophy wife'! Some trophy... I've landed him with two kids that aren't his own (my difficult niece and nephew) and now his wife has weird fake boobs  :/  He's a bloody saint.
  • annsanannsan Member Posts: 46
    @arpie Thank you for your good wishes and support.  This is becoming interesting regarding sisters and lack of support isn't it?  Yourself, @ Janet A and I all have sisters who just don't understand.  Like you @arpie, my sister also has mental health issues (due to a horrific car accident) and I was her Carer for 2 years but when I need her now she just isn't there.  We seem to have quite a group of us in the "childless with BC" category now.  I would like to think we could get a support group going.  There must be many other "childless with BC" women out there.  As I mentioned in my post of May 14, it seems that there is evidence of not breastfeeding being a factor in getting BC not being nulliparous.  @jena I am sorry that you have felt excluded but I hope that you now feel included in this group.  As strange as it may sound, I envy you in the fact that you have such a wonderful support group around you.  I am so pleased that you have a loving family and such good friends. Can you spare a couple :) ?  I will tap into my medical contacts and see what other research or information I can find regarding nulliparous women with BC.  @AllyJay I shuddered with horror when I read your story.  How can human beings treat each other that way?  Thank goodness times have changed and we have progressed (I hope) although I wonder if people will ever learn to stop judging each other. @Janet A you have done a good thing in starting this topic and I loved your comment "We are bombarded by the media to believe you are not normal unless you have a family. It's time to break that myth as we are 1 in 8 women who are childless by choice or circumstance and the number is growing". Yes it is time for us to have a voice.  @Janet A, we were on a bus tour in Cairo when the lovely muslim guide was telling us that they have very few nursing homes in Egypt as children look after their elderly parents. I asked her what happens if you don't have children and she looked at me quite stunned and eventually said "well of course a niece or nephew would look after you".  Of late I have been thinking about her comment (that was on a trip to Egypt in 2012 way before I had BC) and it raises a lot of interesting questions in my mind, not the least being the obvious cultural difference that it is just a fact of life that you have children in some societies.  I wonder if there are women on here who are childless with BC and come from a cultural background that just assumes (I hate that word) and expects every-one to have children? If so, I would love to hear your story.  Well, yet again I seem to have prattled on for an age.  It is 3.45am and I am unable to sleep yet again! Thank you all for listening.  I look forward to our continuing friendships. Ann xx
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 3,212
    ....  I wonder if there are women on here who are childless with BC and come from a cultural background that just assumes (I hate that word) and expects every-one to have children? If so, I would love to hear your story....

    WOW - now THAT is an interesting one - now bear with me & my twisted sense of humour - what if she was gay as well as being Jewish, living in Egypt AND childless?? .... No offence meant, @jena ... or those of the Jewish faith!

    haha @kmakm - Sounds like you found a good one there!  ;)  I just tell people that Keith traded in on a younger model (his 2nd marriage, my first!)   ;)  His 2 adopted children were about 10 years younger than me when we married - I was late 30s .... so luckily I didn't have to raise them - and I had nothing to do with the previous marriage  breakup!  LOL   I get on really well with the son, less so with the daughter, tho we are in touch (they both live in NZ!)  Interestingly enough - NEITHER of THEM have had children either!  The daughter never married & the son's wife (a lovely lady) just never fell pregnant which was a shame as she would have made a lovely mother.  She mothers her brothers & helped raise them when her own mother died from cancer whilst they were still young.  

    The age difference between us is starting to tell now tho, as he gets a lot more wobbly on his pins & has a shocking memory (he's being assessed in 10 days by a Geriatrician as Alzheimers/dementia runs in his family.)  He's given up competitive sport now - but still training daily.  He is VERY thin (never had much weight on him) and a strong puff of wind would knock him over - he almost has to run round the shower to get wet!!  

    Off to the Onc today to discuss tablets & stuff ...... fun fun fun
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