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Stressful event years before diagnosed?

Did you have a super stressful event sometime in the seven years or so before you got diagnosed? How many years before was it? I'm just wondering if there is some connection with this. A researcher told me he believes it starts from stress about seven years before.

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Comments

  • teachermom4
    teachermom4 Member Posts: 46
    edited February 2015

    Hi oceangirl,

    From what I've read there definitely seems to be a high probability that stress and cancer could be correlated. For me, my 20 year marriage started to fall apart seven years before my diagnosis, ending with a divorce two years before the diagnosis. During that time I also switched jobs and moved--can you say STRESS? Who knows for sure though? For now I try and meditate regularly and not let things bother me, otherwise I get stressed about stress

  • SlowDeepBreaths
    SlowDeepBreaths Member Posts: 6,702
    edited February 2015

    Ten years before diagnosis.....lasted about three years....

  • tangandchris
    tangandchris Member Posts: 934
    edited February 2015

    Yes, my life was very stressful from about 2007 until dx in 2013. It seemed like one thing after another and I do believe that stress played a part in my cancer.

  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158
    edited February 2015

    15 years before diagnosed. Too far out?

  • Bippy625
    Bippy625 Member Posts: 602
    edited February 2015

    oh yeah, right on the money. Dad very sudden, but long mental illness and death began in 2006. Dx in 2014.

    Ihave zero doubt the stress is to blame for the catalyst.

  • geewhiz
    geewhiz Member Posts: 671
    edited February 2015

    Me too. People can say what they want...but stress caused my cancer. I was leading a very high strung fast paced lifestyle, and my already stressed out strung out husband had to start caring for his suddenly ill dad, leaving me to care for 3 little ones around the clock for almost 2 years. My father-in-law passed and I can literally remember sitting in bed one night saying to my husband, "I have never been so physically or mentally tired". I was diagnosed a few months later.

    Not a doubt in my mind.

    And now, when I say I need a break...I take it. We have to take care of ourselves first, and not feel guilty about it.


  • slv58
    slv58 Member Posts: 486
    edited February 2015

    Four years for me, too early? Interesting as I have also thought there was a connection. I wonder how many of us who feel stress may be a contributor tend to bottle things up? I have always been one to bury the stress and find something happier.

  • Sjacobs146
    Sjacobs146 Member Posts: 155
    edited March 2015

    Do any of you know anyone who has *not* had a stressful situation in their lives at some point? If stress caused Breast cancer, wouldn't more people have it? My neighbor went through a stressful situation 7 years ago when her father developed dementia, and her mother wasn't dealing well with it. She does not have breast cancer, but I do, and another friend of ours does. I seriously believe that getting BC is just plain old bad luck. I have come across many types of women on these boards, young,old, thin, fat, vegetarians, childless, with children, Breast fed, didn't breast feed, active, couch potatoes, rich, poor, you name it. I do think that there are contributing factors, but just for people who are unlucky enough to be suceptible to them.

    Why do people feel like they need to blame something in particular for their Cancer? Is it too scary to live in a world where stuff happens that we have no control over?

  • slv58
    slv58 Member Posts: 486
    edited February 2015

    Sjacobs, I think it's just human nature to wonder why. I don't think any of us are blaming ourselves-I know I'm not, but the mind is a very powerful thing. I tend to think it can get us through tough times but maybe when the stress is too much the equilibrium breaks down. I believe there is a scientific reason why some get cancer and others don't including the aspect of emotion, stress and spirituality-it's just not discovered yet. I don't think this thread was started to blame our lifestyle for getting cancer, I think it's to explore if any of us feel a connection between maybe something that happened that we were unable to cope with and a possibility this affected our body's defence. I sense anger from you at the thought that some of us feel that maybe when our 'soul' (for lack of better word) suffered, maybe our bodies did also. I enjoy exploring everyone's opinion even if I disagree. Let's face it, even the most educated scientists don't understand.

  • geewhiz
    geewhiz Member Posts: 671
    edited February 2015

    I know an oncological trial designer, prior Harvard professor, Rhodes Scholar etc.

    Science is about being open-minded.

    He allows 36% for the placebo effect in designing trials. If someone THINKS they will get well - 36% of the time, over and over again ...they do. I prefer not to live my life thinking I have no control and that everything is random occurrence.

  • YJ2012
    YJ2012 Member Posts: 12
    edited February 2015

    Sajacobs, I know for sure stress caused my BC. My mom was diagnosed with TNBC , breast cancer 3 yrs back and I was her primary care taker in terms of her treatment plan. I was innocently ignorant of BC world ,until my mom was diagnosed as there was zero family history The stress and helplessness I experienced during the initial stage esp negativity on TN cancer, I don't wish that on my worst enemy.Each time she went for a scan , which was schedule with 3 months duration , I could physically feel energy depleting from my body. Finally I ended up diagnosed with my own BC ordeal last year .

    I know for sure , I have no doubt stress was contributing factor in my case. I agree with Wrenn , if you don't believe in an opinion you have choice to stay clear from that particular post.

  • glennie19
    glennie19 Member Posts: 4,830
    edited February 2015


    Thanks for that link, Slow.  Good article.

    Sjacobs: I think a lot of people want to find a reason why they got cancer. It is hard to accept a world where shit happens and we have no control. But to me,, that is the world of cancer. You can do everything right and still get it.  And we all know someone who was a life long smoker/drinker/junk food eater who didn't exercise, who never got cancer and lived to be 90.  I think some people want to blame something,,, even my Mom said: why did YOU get cancer? You eat right, exercise, etc,,, like that gives me a pass from getting it.

     I have had a lot of stress in my life. Yes, I got a divorce 7 years before I got BC, but compared to some of the other stress I've had in my earlier life,,, the divorce was minor. Why didn't I get cancer 7 years after the stressful event at age 13?  Or at age 29?  Those events were MUCH harder to deal with than my divorce.  Was it a cumulative effect from total stress in my life?  Who knows?  And of course, we can't explain why a 3 year old gets cancer either. He/she hasn't even been around for 7 years.

    slv58:   I believe there is a scientific reason why some get cancer and others don't including the aspect of emotion, stress and spirituality-it's just not discovered yet.  YES,, right on the money.  We just don't know.

    I think all I can go from here, is to try to live as healthy as possible and enjoy life.  I really do try to reduce the stress in my life now. And I try to eat right,, but then the chocolate ice cream calls my name,,,,,

  • SlowDeepBreaths
    SlowDeepBreaths Member Posts: 6,702
    edited February 2015

    Do I think stress alone causes cancer? No

    Do I think stress can be a factor? Yes

    I know they've found a link between inflammation and cancer.

    I also know they have found a link between chronic stress and inflammation.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/chronic-stress-health-inflammation-genes_n_4226420.html

    In the end....who knows?

    It sure is interesting to compare information though. That's the great benefit of discussion boards.

    Pass the ice cream!!

  • oceangirl654
    oceangirl654 Member Posts: 59
    edited February 2015

    We all agree, probably, that there are many factors that can cause cancer. In a very young child, it would be exposure to environmental toxins, probably in utero, like drinking water coming from near a superfund site. For me the doctors are sure there is a genetic component since I'm only 40 and that's too young for cumulative minor toxins to take effect, plus my mom and sister got it too. But from all the research I've done there is usually an environmental component that, combined with the genes that aren't working 100%, leads to cancer. Like if you have genes that make you susceptible to lung cancer plus you smoke. There is tons of research on this. So I think the stress idea is definitely likely- if you have genes that don't repair your DNA well, and then you get tons of DNA damage from either stress or environmental pollutants like pesticides (like a farm near your home) then voila, what can you body do to protect you from all that? I think it's interesting that my mom got breast cancer at 50 but my sister and I both got it last year, when she was 43 and I was 40. And we both had a hugely stressful time 7 years ago (I was five months pregnant on the verge of premature labor and my sister got divorced and came to live with us so that there were three kids and three adults in an 800 sq ft apartment), plus I had a "booster" of stress 2 years ago when I was in a custody case to fight for my son. But who knows, it could just purely be genes in my case. Either way, it's true that it hardly really matters what caused it- blame or guilt are definitely not helpful in healing- it's true that in the end it is just random bad luck, which everyone gets a bit of in life.

  • oceangirl654
    oceangirl654 Member Posts: 59
    edited February 2015

    I like your post, kayb. It's really true.

  • Bippy625
    Bippy625 Member Posts: 602
    edited February 2015

    yes, sjacobs, why so angry? Not cool to be so insensitive. Or are we reading you wrong? I think it is a valid question and find it interesting.


  • Trvler
    Trvler Member Posts: 925
    edited February 2015

    I have definitely considered the stress angle. My family has been under a lot of stress lately.

    I was less than thrilled to see an article the other day that said introverts have a much higher chance of getting cancer than extroverts. I was like 'f--k', now I have to blame it on my personality? But seriously, I think it is interesting how people need to blame something. In my experience, most want to blame diet. But I see people who obviously have terrible diets all the time. But I am not blaming anything. I am not going to blame it on my cell phone or my deodorant or my personality. I have enough to think about dealing with the cancer. Could I make some positive diet changes in my life? Of course. Am I going to blame myself? Nope.

  • Trvler
    Trvler Member Posts: 925
    edited February 2015

    No, don't misunderstand me. I don't doubt stress can be a factor. I just meant I am not going to blame myself for something I did or did not do. I will never know so what's the point? (for me) I think my energy is better spent taking care to make sure I get better. I am not saying to ask the question is a mistake.

  • tangandchris
    tangandchris Member Posts: 934
    edited February 2015

    I don't blame stress on my cancer either...but I think it played a role in it. I also wonder if having a baby at 35 threw my hormones and body into chaos and that contributed as well.


  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158
    edited February 2015

    I don't read any anger or hostility into sjacobs post. She uses the "s" word, but that really doesn't mean anything these days

  • daisylover
    daisylover Member Posts: 173
    edited February 2015

    I am sad that many of the people posting on this thread are being "hostile" to SJacobs. She just offers a different point of view. I am beginning to think that BCO is a very mean and bullying place. I was so happy when I first discovered BCO and thought that it was such a positive, supportive place. Recently, it seems like it's a place for cliques and bullies. I am truly saddened by this thread - there should be room for a different opinion.

  • windgirl
    windgirl Member Posts: 208
    edited February 2015

    This is almost impossible to prove in a trial which is probably why it is not one of the questions we answer at the doctors office for putting us in high risk. I've answered questions about family history alcohol use whether I've had any pregnancies and even age of first menstruation but never anything related to a stressful lifestyle. I've read about a view that people under stress make lifestyle choices that could potentially put them at a higher risk such as through excessive alcohol consumption or smoking but that seemed a little silly to me as this really is not representative of our population here on BC org. In any case this is not something that can be proven or disproven easily with a scientific trial.

    Here is what I also know and think: as mentioned in previous posts cancer cells exist in everyone's body but the immune system takes care of them. Something went wrong in each of us where our bodies could not stop this and eventually tumors were formed. This also puts us at high risk for the same thing reoccurring regarding rogue cancer cells that may have remained in our bodies after treatment from our existing tumors or even completely new ones. So it only makes sense for us to take better care of ourselves, know when we are tired and give our bodies a rest physically and emotionally. It cannot be purely stress but stress could very well be a factor that depressed our bodies' defense mechanism. I watched a documentary (old one I think) on stress on netflix and it's pretty scary what it can do. I don't believe you need to have a traumatic event for stress that depresses the immune system necessarily, this documentary showed that chronic stress due to multitasking is in fact one of the biggest contributors to stress and premature aging internally. I don't know about you girls but I multitask every day, in fact it is one of the performance indicators for many office jobs today and I can say that I am a high performer in that regard. Our bodies probably gave warning signs before one way or the other if we were under stress that affected out immune system to the point where it could be a factor. I have three aunts that had breast cancer (and have survived by the way) and each had lichen skin disease which is thought to be related to issues with the immune system, in the years before they formed breast tumors. I did not have this but it's interesting to me.

    Long story short, think stress is a factor but does not have to be a single traumatic event in my opinion, and we should all be watching our bodies carefully to see if we show any signs unrelated to cancer that could indicate our body has reached a limit. I don't mean to say we brought this upon ourselves at alland it could very well be dumb luck that our defense mechanisms did not function as well as others. All I am saying is that as this is not going to be proven one way or the other, it makes sense we try to be aware about this going forward and play it safer. Many of us don't have the ability to make drastic changes in our lifestyle, but I guess we can give it a try to take a break when we see signals. Surely can't be bad right?

  • CassieCat
    CassieCat Member Posts: 863
    edited February 2015

    windgirl, I agree. Thank you for writing that up. I've been reading a couple of books that have helped convince me to look at my lifestyle overall in an effort to do what I can to reduce my risks of recurrence or new cancer. Mental health and stress reduction are a part of that, for me. I have always been a high-stress person. I take things very personally and I hate conflict. I anger easily but don't do anything with it. These aren't healthy. Did they contribute to my tumors? Who knows? But I know they can't be good for me either, and I'm willing to work on news ways of being. I might still get cancer again, but I'd like to know that I did what I could on my part to reduce my risks. As for 7 years prior to diagnosis: I was in my second year of a new job, working for a terribly unsupportive boss and dealing with some really crazy parents (teacher). My daughter's ballet school also went through a dramatic upheaval, and we left. It was a hard time, but I could probably come up with equally hard times every year. Both my in-laws died within 8 weeks of each other in 2013, and our dog too. I hope that doesn't foretell anything for me or DH in 2020. :(

  • Bippy625
    Bippy625 Member Posts: 602
    edited February 2015

    windgirl and cassie, I loved your posts. I see alot of myself in each.

    Stress does not help the immune system. I am living very differently now too.

    Sjacobs, I actually do prescribe to the chaos and random theory. And I do believe humans look for reasons for awful things that happen. Just our nature. If we think we know why, we think we can control it.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 5,728
    edited February 2015

    Life is stressful. Who do you know that has no stress? If you live long enough, you will encounter disappointment, difficult loss, betrayal, you may be the victim of crime, false witness, physical assault. You may have financial difficulties, relationship troubles and work related problems. You will have struggles and questions as you go about living your life. No one is really immune to stress.

    Yes, I have had stress. I know many, many women who have dealt with severe stress and Never Got breast cancer. Three of those women are my older sisters. I am not a big fan of the 'stress caused bc' theory. And one researcher will claim it is caused by stress seven years ago, another will say ten years ago, one more will say two years ago. Meh.

  • ninetwelve
    ninetwelve Member Posts: 309
    edited February 2015

    I would be more likely to blame my age, diet, and lack of exercise for my cancer. But I have also had a lot of stress in my life. The truth is, we probably need more studies, but how would we design them?

    btw, I didn't find any hostility in Sjacob's post. Maybe some folks read too much into the language? There were no direct attacks or insults at anyone, she just disagreed with the theory being proposed. Why would we not want differing opinions in our topics?

  • LindaE54
    LindaE54 Member Posts: 1,379
    edited February 2015


    I did not see any hostility in SJabob's post.  We can think differently and express our opinions and we may not agree.  I hope we can all continue to exchange freely without being judged.

    Linda

  • fizzdon52
    fizzdon52 Member Posts: 382
    edited February 2015

    Yes I so totally believe this and so does my Aunt who also had Breast Cancer. We both had very stressful marriage breaks ups etc about 5-7 years before diagnoses.

  • Izzyfran
    Izzyfran Member Posts: 46
    edited February 2015

    I do agree that stress can be a contributing factor for BC and for other diseases. In a way it allows for your body and immune system to not be at it best. In my case, prior to being diagnosed. I was extremely stressed out, tired, and had low Vit D. I certainly think it's not just one thing but a combination of factors. Just my thoughts....