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Did I Cause Myself To Get Cancer?

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honeybair
honeybair Member Posts: 234

When I was 48 years old, I visited my famlly doctor with complaints of not feeling up to par.  He tested my hormone levels and they came in on the low side.  He prescribed Premarin together with progestin, both synthetic homrmones.  When Prempro was developed, I

was switched to that drug.  I felt positively amazing on these drugs because I had a really trying time going through menopause.   My doctor told me that both his wife and mother were on these drugs and that he would not prescribe anything for me that he would not give them.  He then went on to explain the benefits of these hormones.

Fast forward to when I was 57. When I went in for renewal of drugs, my doctor informed me that he would no longer keep me on these, that research had been shown to indicate that women were at higher risk for developing breast cancer and I was advised to never take the homones again.  Two months later, a mammogram revealed that I had developed DCIS, stage 0.  I had a lumpectomy folloed by 25 radiation treatments.  I remained clean for 11 years.  This past December, my surgeon in a routine examination following my annual mammogram, discovered an enlarged nymph node under my right arm, the same side as my original cancer.  A biopsy confirmed positive for cancer.  I now have Stage 111, regional recurrence  which extends into my right collarbone.  My treatments prior to a modified radical mastectomy have been AC, followed by 12 Taxol treatments plus Herceptin.

I just wanted to know if anyone else has been diagnosed with cancer after having taken hormones for such a long period of time?  Cancer does not run on either side of my family.  I feel the ignorance of the medical profession pertaining to these dangerous drugs has caused me to develop cancer. 

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Comments

  • melissadallas
    melissadallas Member Posts: 929
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    Honeybair, could they have contributed? Yes, but a huge proportion of women used to take HRT and they don't all get cancer. The biggest risk factors are being female & getting older. I hate seeing women trying to blame themselves.

  • patti13
    patti13 Member Posts: 21
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    Not only hate seeing women blaming themselves - but hate hearing other people blaming the woman who has cancer....I have had 2 women in my family die from breast cancer on my mothers side - when diagnosed i heard that my ex-husband told my two grown children he wasn't surprised - he thought i should have taken better care of myself....wtf - never overweight - always exercising - altho i do like my wine - but i'm not in the business of blaming myself.

  • gonegirl
    gonegirl Member Posts: 1,022
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    I'm with you all. When I was first diagnosed, someone asked me how I got the breast cancer. I said, I didn't know. My boobs never smoked.

  • Blessings2011
    Blessings2011 Member Posts: 1,801
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    I took birth control pills for over 30 years. When I hit menopause, I took HRT... at first, Estrogen and Progesterone, then after my hysterectomy, just Estrogen. Without it, my quality of life was horrific - constant hot flashes, drenching night sweats, and loss of short-term memory. I took it for 10 years.

    Two years after I stopped HRT completely, I was dx'd with BC at the age of 60.

    Did I cause myself to get BC? The short answer is no. There have been SO many studies with varying outcomes as to whether or not hormones cause cancer.

    My mom had BC; dx'd at the same age as I was. I don't remember if she ever took any hormones. Basically, she was female, and she was getting older.

    I did worry about heart disease, though... it's rampant in my family. There was some evidence at the time that estrogen alone did protect the body from coronary artery disease, which may be true, as my heart is completely healthy!

    I guess in my book, I believe I got cancer because $#!T Happens.

  • wenweb
    wenweb Member Posts: 471
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    I'm almost 60, but I wanted to say that I never took HRT (I did/do use low dose vaginal estrogen) and I got BC.  My mother who took HRT for years+ is 83 and she hasn't gotten BC.  I think you only torture yourself if you assign blame, but I also think it is part of the process of acceptance...for what it's worth 

  • lstewart51
    lstewart51 Member Posts: 2
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    I too took the hormones about same time frame as you.No history in my family either. Just diagnosed with IDC stage III.

  • honeybair
    honeybair Member Posts: 234
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    I have read that white middle-class women have the highest rate of breast cancer.  Could that be because they can afford to visit doctors to seek treatment for symptoms of menopause?  I will always believe that hormones are the driving cause behind my cancer.  My mother was terrifed of hormones because her across the street friend developed breast cancer and she took hormones.  Wish I had taken the advice of my now 88 year-old mother who is very physically healthy.

    I have warned both my daughters who are now in their thirties about the dangers of these drugs.

  • MaraUK
    MaraUK Member Posts: 27
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    Hi gritgirl love that reply



    I too wanted to blame myself. I never took the pill or hrt but I am overweight.



    I agree w ith Melissa. We can't keep beating ourselves up over what we could have done different its just bad luck .



    Or has blessings20 says so well dirt happens( i'am notbeing polite my keyboard won't let me say it like you did lol)



    Mara

  • gonegirl
    gonegirl Member Posts: 1,022
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    Other women in my family took birth control and hrt, but did not get BC. I took excellent care of myself and took birth control off and on, but did get BC. I am the only BC person in my family, including cousins, at all. As folks say, shit happens. Sometimes a lot of shit happens.

  • fujiimama
    fujiimama Member Posts: 236
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    Don't beat yourself up. I was only 37 @ the time. Never had a chance to try hrt. I was still in recovery from having a baby. My sister and I agree that part of the increase is the burden of technology. A woman in a remote third world country gets sick and dies from bc. Nobody knows, because nobody will test her or do an autopsy. A woman in remote america had a bus come by to smash her boobs. She now knows she has bc, she is treated and lives ___ years...her statistics are now being looked at by researchers trying to figure it out. The truth is you will probably never know why. Is it the fish I ate from lake Michigan, the fact that my mother was born south of the above ground test site, a gene they have yet to discover, the pesticide filled irrigation ditches I swam in, etc? Never ever believe you caused this. Cancer happens and it sucks. Hold your chin up high. If some one askes you how did you get bc, tell them by being born.

  • fujiimama
    fujiimama Member Posts: 236
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    Don't beat yourself up. I was only 37 @ the time. Never had a chance to try hrt. I was still in recovery from having a baby. My sister and I agree that part of the increase is the burden of technology. A woman in a remote third world country gets sick and dies from bc. Nobody knows, because nobody will test her or do an autopsy. A woman in remote america had a bus come by to smash her boobs. She now knows she has bc, she is treated and lives ___ years...her statistics are now being looked at by researchers trying to figure it out. The truth is you will probably never know why. Is it the fish I ate from lake Michigan, the fact that my mother was born south of the above ground test site, a gene they have yet to discover, the pesticide filled irrigation ditches I swam in, etc? Never ever believe you caused this. Cancer happens and it sucks. Hold your chin up high. If some one askes you how did you get bc, tell them by being born.

  • FireKracker
    FireKracker Member Posts: 5,858
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    I have friends that did everything right and got the beast

    Me on the other hand did take the HRT...for over a decade....all my drs.pushed it and my hot flushes were drivin me mad...i was 40 when i finished my period...got bc at the age of 69..no family history.

    Its about who pulls the short straw.

    NO WE DID NOT CAUSE OUR CANCER....

  • ctmom1234
    ctmom1234 Member Posts: 22
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    Nope, you didn't cause it! 

    BTW, I never took any hormone replacements nor was on the pill. I don't take any meds, I also nursed our twins, don't drink alcohol or coffee or eat red meat, I'm average weight and exercise. My Mom took hormone replacements and my older sister is pretty much the opposite of me -- neither got bc and I did in my early 40s. Glad I did get annual mammograms though, which is also something that a lot of people don't do.

  • socallisa
    socallisa Member Posts: 10,184
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    Whenever someone asks me how did I think I got my breast cancer, I tell them it was the fault of the worm in the bottom of the tequila bottle..

  • chef127
    chef127 Member Posts: 226
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    SoCallLisa,

    Too funny. I hate that worm.

    Ignorance caused mine??

  • Delvzy
    Delvzy Member Posts: 454
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    I used to strain my brain on what could have caused mine I had highI Insulin levels had been on the pill for 20 years and had a stressful job ate a lot of dairy Igf and had a baby at 40 apparently those factors combined with bad luck gave me BC of hi bf politically correct put me at high risk of getting BC Delvzy

  • veggy
    veggy Member Posts: 4,150
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    I had a friend (?) yesterday who blamed me for getting cancer. She claimed that since I ate red meat, did not eat organically, and it must have been in my genes, that I caused it. I almost ripped her face off. I told her that even vegans get cancer. It's not in my genes. We breathe the same air. The soil gets rained on and the rain is contaminated. I told her that I got cancer because $&it happens. I had to turn and walk away and I did with my head held high. Then I found a safe place and had a temper cry. We did not cause cancer. It just happened.

  • edwards750
    edwards750 Member Posts: 1,568
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    veggy - some friend? That's pretty low for a so called friend. I had one who kept saying it was all about genetics and those were the people that got it - the only people who got it. Researchers claim 70% of BC cases are from women who are not high risk. Regardless none of us asked for this nightmare and we play the hand we are dealt. People believe what they want to to make themselves feel better. They think saying it as a matter of fact somehow makes it so. Rude flipping awakening for them. We all know people who supposedly did everything right and still got it an vice versa. I think we just got an unlikely draw. I suppose you could make a case why each one of us got it - mine would be my mother. My sister and sister in law both have it and maybe others eating red meat? Seriously. I have heard that...my sister by the way rarely eats red meat. We have enough to deal with w/o people having the audacity to blame us for this beast...I can tell you this with absolute certainty veggy...she would be my Xfriend. diane

  • veggy
    veggy Member Posts: 4,150
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    Shes someone I won't miss.

  • FireKracker
    FireKracker Member Posts: 5,858
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    Awww Veggy u know you didnt cause the cancer.

    We all no that.what planet did she come from?

  • LtotheK
    LtotheK Member Posts: 487
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    We all want definitive answers for the simple reason that it gives us a sense of control. What we really cant control is the environment. My friends in SE Europe are scared as cancer is now epidemic. All different kinds. What changed? Their food has gone industrial and their air is polluted and they now work in high stress jobs or have the stress of unemployment. Yet if this is what caused cancer they would all have it. Do I think inappropriate amounts of stress, being dense breasted, growing up in a toxic landfill and childlessness cause my cancer? It may have triggered my faulty genes but to be honest I just described pretty much every one of my girlfriends. My onc calls it the perfect storm and I don't even buy that. The vast majority of us live the perfect storm every day.

  • veggy
    veggy Member Posts: 4,150
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    I just figure poop happens. NO other explanation.

  • Ivano02
    Ivano02 Member Posts: 5
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    Yes, you could go crazy trying to figure out what cause the breast cancer. I had several risk factors like HRT, having my children's at 40, not breast feeding my kids because they were premature, dense breasts. Yet, my friend as none of these factors and she has triple negative breast cancer.

  • SelenaWolf
    SelenaWolf Member Posts: 231
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    I remember that - when I was diagnosed - a friend of mine confessed that a number of other "friends" approached her and asked her what I had "done" to get cancer.  I was gobsmacked.  But there is still that pervasive belief that we can, somehow, prevent cancer from developing if we just do things "right".  Just like there's that perception out there that if we just stay positive and maintain a good mindset we can "beat" the disease.

    Problem is, there is no "right" thing to do.  We can reduce our risk in some ways - eat well, don't smoke, keep our weight down, and stay active - but these aren't sure-fire preventions.  Many women who do all of the above can- and do develop cancer.  Many women never to any of the above and don't develop cancer.  Some women never take HRT or birth control pills and develop cancer; some are on them for YEARS and never do.

    Our bodies are, basically, machines and like all machines, some break down faster than others; some develop problems that others don't; some malfunction.  We can do some things to help keep them in good running order for as long as possible, but - eventually - they're  going to wear out or break down.  This is not to downplay the role genetics can- and does play in the development of certain cancers, or in the possibility of environmental issues having a role, but the human body is a very complex thing and, while science has developed an understanding of the biological "cues" that have to be in place in order for cancer to develop, so far we don't know quite how to stop those "cues" from occurring.

    So, no, I don't think you contributed to your cancer nor should you blame yourself.  I've never had HRT, yet I still developed cancer.  I'm a woman.  I have breasts.  Somehow, my body sent out the right "cues" for breast cancer to develop, despite the fact I am very active, despite the fact that I follow a "whole food" diet, despite the fact that I don't smoke and despite the fact that I am not overweight and never have been.  My gender and those damn breasts were my problem and there wasn't a damn thing I can do about that.

  • car2tenn
    car2tenn Member Posts: 132
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    I would like to add to this forum. I am a nurse practitioner with access to the best in healthcare. I had no risk factors except female and growing older. I had 3 mammograms in 5 years. 8 weeks after the last one bingo I had stage 4 breast cancer. A major university health center missed the diagnosis more than once on more than one type test. Angry - you betcha but I had to get over it. NO ONE gives themselves breast cancer..There are factors that may enhance the chance that the cells will turn on us and create a tumor but this research is still not sure. Getter older and being female are still the leading culprits.

    A long time ago I worked in an outpatient surgery center. I never will forget one woman who appeared for breast biopsy surgery. Her faith was 7th Day Adventist. She had never had alcohol, or cigarettes and she brought her own water to drink while she was there. The doctor unwisely had told her there was little chance of it being malignant. It was malignant. You see the science is still developing the hard and fast rules. So we women pick up the pieces, put a smile on our face as best as possible and gently lift a prayer to heaven for help....Carolyn from Music City

  • labelle
    labelle Member Posts: 134
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    Even if using HRT did contribute to your cancer, and there is a lot evidence to show this is possible, you still didn't give it to yourself. You simply followed the medical advise you were given.

    I sometimes wonder if yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 (due to my mother having had BC/no BRCA found when I did the tests) contributed to me getting BC, but due to family history this is what I was told to do. In retrospect, I would not have had yearly mammograms beginning so young or used Depo-Provera for birth control as a young woman if I knew then what I know now, but in both cases I was told by medical professionals that these were safe things to do. I, and a lot of us I suspect, would have done a lot of things differently to try to prevent our own BC diagnosis. I would have been sure to keep my vitamin d levels high and would have eaten a healthier diet for example in an attempt to be proactive about preventing BC, but I didn't know these were things I should be doing. Lack of good information and/or good medical advise does not equate giving BC to myself, but it does tick me off sometimes.

  • robinblessed54
    robinblessed54 Member Posts: 485
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    Hello and yes! I took HRT for 14 years!! I know that is what caused my BC. I am 60 and no family history either.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,968
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    ladies,

    Family history, i.e. known genetics, is only responsible for a small percentage of bc cases (no more than 20%). So the vast majority of us don't have family bc history. On top of that, many, many women did not take HRT and still have bc, many , many women took it and don't have bc. It may be of retrospective value to understand what causes bc, but it's of little value to us as individuals especially if it causes us to blame ourselves. Take care.

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
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    Caryn makes a good point - we just don't know about the effect of past treatments.

    We're all dealing with plenty of concerns - there's no need to suspect ourselves of having contributed to the cancer. Let's be gentle on ourselves, and on others.

  • littlemelons
    littlemelons Member Posts: 23
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    I took clomid to stimulate my ovaries when I was 32 and having difficulty conceiving. It stimulated them so much that I ended up with large cysts that had to be removed surgically.  Right after that I got pregnant with twins.  I have always wondered if that clomid didn't somehow cause my bc...diagnosed 30 years later.  Wouldn't trade the twins for anything though lol.