Attitude to Money??

i wonder if the Dx of Bc has changed peoples attitude to savings and money.
I went to sort out some savings today. the woman said ‘do you think you will need the money in a year?’ Would you like to invest it for 5 years? I went into a absolute ‘panic mode’. Didnt know what to do. then got very morbid thinking i wont be here to enjoy it and benefit from it. I havent obviously thrown all cation to the wind as i have kids and hubby but having a DX of BC sure does affect everything.
I invested for 1 yr as it was 6.7% interest. Havent told Hubby yet. Maybe having this disease has made me more independent and decisive after all???

It has changed my attitude a bit. Where as we always were fairly comfortable we always put money aside for the future. That’s all changed!!!
I’ve decided that we will have a 5 year break from being careful. We will not be saving any extra for the future, we are going on every holiday we ever fancied, every outing we fancy and live like it’s my last year. If in 5 years it looks like I am gonna be sticking around to make old bones, we will go back to putting away for the future.

We’re having a break from being sensible!


Hi Liverbird,

In my case, having breastcancer has made me less likely to let people to push me around, since I might be around very long.

Only yesterday, when I happened to be chatting to a neighbour through the garden hedge, I mentioned that I was thinking of having a large tree cut down, so as to save on the expense of firewood. He said “I would not agree to it”. In the past I would not have said anything at all, but now I was able to answer “It is my tree”. He then went on “It is not the done thing”. I chanched the subject after that, but I am determined to stick up for myself even more. This is a man who has a lovely garden but has no large trees. So now he wants to dictate to me what to do with my garden! Just a few weeks ago he lopped off all branches that were hanging over to his side, all along a long boundary. My husband is disabled and not able to stick up for me and I think that this chap next door is trying to take advantage. Typical short man!

I must say, I find I have a desperate urge to go to far flung places I’ve always wanted to visit and am not afraid to delay saving or even use up some savings to do it. I’m loathe to put things off too long just in case in a couple of years or whatever, I find I’m not fit enough to do the things I want.

My view is, as long as you’re not completely reckless or put yourself in debt, money is there to make life more comfortable and do things you enjoy. It’s no good just sitting looking at it.

Without going into debt (where possible), I live for today and have done most things that I want to do already due to very ill health 7 years ago. It changed my whole perspective on life and this recent BC has just supported the fact that I made the right decision.

I have no pension. Actually I’ve never had a permanent job in any company where there was an opportunity to join one/company contributions (must have worked at ratshit companies…) or wasn’t at them long enough.

I’m hoping to get back working around February if I can sort the applicable childcare for my school aged child.

Whereas I had been thinking I should join some sort of private pension scheme, I’m now thinking that might be “dead money” (pardon the pun).

Should I wait until I get through the 2 year or 5 year marks? I’m 43 so really need to sort something if I am going to get to retirement age…


Hi Mousy,

Pensions are complicated: it would be a good idea to get advice from a professional. However, when you start applying for jobs, it is worth remembering that NHS, Local Governments and the Civil Service have good pension schemes.

If you have had a break from work, have you been paying NI contributions? If you have some gaps, you might still be able to make enough contrbutions before you reach State retirement age.


Do you have some idea of whether you are a high-risk or a low-risk case? Also, I have read that 70% of recurrences happen during the first two years after treatment. For ER+ patients there is a second mini-peak at the 6-7 year mark as patients go off their anti-hormonal treatments. I have read that ER-/PR- or Her2 positive cancers rarely come back after 8 years, but that is a very long time to wait.

I stopped topping up my pension, but I became even more thrifty because I had to spend £8,000 on herceptin until the NHS picked up the tab (the delay and cost were caused by the timing of the discovery that herceptin was effective against my high-risk cancer). So I wanted to save money but keep it accessible, not locked away in a pension. I felt that money was my safety net in case the disease comes back and there is a much better treatment somewhere else in the world (but I know that this can get really expensive). My husband, on the other hand, turned into Viv Nicholson (spend, spend, spend, although mainly on the house, not on stupid stuff), which means that there is a real tension around money that I can’t talk to him about without coming off as overly morose.

I was a high risk patient, but also someone whose grandmothers lived well into their 90s, so I am really torn on about whether I should consider topping up again or whether some of the potential later effects of the heavy treatment I received will shorten my life so much that top up isn’t a good use of money. Decisions, decisions.


I now view my pension as a pension pot if I live or money for my family if I die, as I presume I can no longer get life insurance. So if you have dependants, it’s not ‘dead’ money, but it will be your family who will benefit rather than you.

I know it is still a difficult choice to make, when there are so many other pressing demands on money, not the least of which is the desire to live for today as tomorrow might not come.

I work for a company that over the last few years have given out shares incentives for service loyalty, I always banked mine and had every plan to stock pile towards my pension, well seeing as diagnosed at age 37 Dec 05 and a crap prognosis I have just cashed £2000 worth and booked a family holiday to florida next June, Husband wasn’t too impressed but its my money, my bonus and I want to take the kids on their dream holiday while I am fit and healthy. Currently I am NED.

I still have my work pension which carries life insurance, but I do feel if we want something and its not putting us in debt then why wait until we are retired, some of us probably wont be around then.

Debbie x

May be a stupid question but how do you know if you are hig risk or low risk? Is it the grade of the cancer? In my case I was a grade 3 ER- a tiny bit PR+ and HER- lumpectomy and no lymph nodes involved…

so - would I class myself as low risk or high risk?



In your case, I wouldn’t know as grade 3 is high risk, but no lymph nodes is low risk. I am grade 3 with lymph involvement.

Hi RoadRunner

Thanks for the message.

For arguments sake I guess I should just say Medium risk eh?LOL


All the while my youngest is under 5, I don’t need to make voluntary contributions (he’s only 2 now). My pension situation will be even more tricky because the first 13 or 14 years of my working life were in NZ so part of my state pension would come from there. I had always planned that I would be in NZ when I retired. They get more pension (as well as more spending power) and the UK people who live there get topped up so everybody ends up with the same. Fat chance of that now… My partner doesn’t want to live there and they probably wouldn’t want me now. Should have become a citizen while I had the chance… Really could do with being there for the family support but that’s another issue.

I think I would be high risk, though things are in a pretty good state at the mo. I was grade 3 ductal, two lumps, biggest 5.2x4cm, lymph nodes assumed involved as one was swollen but with chemo first who knows, triple neg, but at post chemo scans no lumps visible. Just going into surgery and rads stages. I got gemcitabine on the NeoTango trial which is supposed to improve recurrence odds, but believe it’s still a 1 in 3 chance…

It’s not dead money, maybe, as long as my partner is around, but if he dies as well, the pension goes with him. Actually I’m rather peed that I’ve been with him 9 years now and he still hasn’t named me on his pension but that’s another issue. I have had life insurance since I was 18 so that side of things is not a problem.


You may want to consider putting money into some other form of investment rather than pension if you want to save long term. It is not as tax efficient as paying into a pension but will be available there whenever you want.

I have always thought I would like to retire at 55 (I am just coming up to 49),. Now afer bc I am certain that is what I am going to do. I still pay into my company pension but only the minimum I need for the company to make their bigger contribution. After dx, I had a financial review with a financial advisor. I was fortunate as I had a critical illness insurance payment that reduced my mortgage considerably (not sure fortunate is a word to be used in connection with bc but you know what I mean). This payment meant I had more disposable income but I have chosen to make regular contributions to an investment fund rather than into my pension. It helps save for my retirement at 55 but should the worst happen and I need it before it is immediately available.

Sharon x

Those of us with pensions, savings, critical illness and insurance schemes are probably a privileged minority among people with breast cancer. Financial hardship is one of the biggest issues for many people living with cancer, particularly those living with secondary cancer.


Just thought that I would add that there were a lot of changes re pensions as of last year and one of those was that at of 2010 the minimum retirement age will go up to 55 from 50. I know because it I am coming up to 50 and unless I retire before 2009 when I am 52 I will then have to wait until I am 55 which means retiring in 2012. Its one of the things that I am looking at and whilst I have a company pension that will pay 4xsalary death in service I am paying a small amount into it, I am putting as much money as I can into high interest savings accounts for my “fed up with work, want to take a break” fund which I feel is fast approaching.

Its probably in everyones best interest that they take financial advice re pensions or any other major investment.


Ever since I started working I’ve been struggling to get by on what I’ve earned without putting pension money away. Admittedly I lived alone most of the way through my 20s and early 30s though.

It was only since I moved in with OH that I found myself at slightly above break even, but that’s gone completely out of the window since I had the kids. I only worked for about 6 months in between their births and not since. Now things are quite pear shaped again, with the house falling apart around us due to being so behind with DIY/repairs, not to mention OH’s 1995 car.

Makes me wonder how on earth I’d find anything to put away anyway, but I guess for the next two years or so from when I get some work, putting some money into my cash ISA would probably be the best bet. I can decide what to do with it later on.

Also wonder how on earth other people manage to put pension money away. Do you get used to it because you start at 18 and never see that money all the way through your career…?



I think those with permanent jobs and helpful bosses are at a distinct advantage. For those like me who have been temping, there has been a distinct lack of help, whether it be only getting Maternity Allowance instead of SMP during the maternity periods or zero sick pay during the cancer period due to not actually being employed.

It has had a big effect on my finances because it has delayed my return to work by 8 or 9 months, but is not a quantifiable “loss of earnings”, so I wouldn’t even get a payout on if I had a “loss of earnings” policy.


I think that it really helps if your employer has a pension scheme and they contribute for you because it encourages you to contribute as well. As I understand now it is a requirement for employers who have more than 5 employees to provide a stakeholder scheme for their employees to contribute to. You can actually contribute to a pension for your children (bit early I know) but it is possible. Why anyone would want to tie money up for what can be 50 years amazes me.