WHY have I got cancer so "young"?

I’ve been sat about wondering exactly WHY I’ve got cancer so young. I’ve just watched a programme on IPlayer from earlier this week about whether we should test our genes for mutations.
I’ve asked to see if I have BRCA1 /2 or whatever for Breast Cancer.
So this has brought about more in depth pondering on my behalf.
I was diagnosed at 34 years old. If I don’t have a genetic pre-disposition to cancer, then why the hell have I got it?
What did I do to bring it on? IS is “my fault” if it’s not genetic, for eating crap, for enjoying too much wine, for smoking for 10 years (given up for 5 years now) or for being overweight?
WILL it *really* make any difference if I now live my life holier than thou (Which I really don’t want to do, I like eating/drinking/not exercising)
You see my Mum was an organic vege for 25 years, most days swam 40 lengths at the local pool, never smoked. The only thing she ever did “wrong” was be naturally overweight, drink and get stressed quite a lot. She died at 52 from bowel cancer.
I see a lot of examples in my extended family of people who had really bad diets, overweight, smoked, drank, never exercised etc, lived forever.
But then a lot on both sides of cancer too.

Anyone have any answers? I’m not beating myself up, I’d probably have done it all anyway :wink:

Hi there, I think we all ask ourselves the same after the initial dx, I was 36 when dx and had never heard of anyone my age with bc - thought it was something to worry about when I was older. My opinion is sh?t happens, loads of ladies/men get bc of all ages, I’ve never smoked am not overweight eat fairly well don’t drink loads just an occasional wine at the weekend, no family history of any cancers, So I’ve just carried on as before, and hope the tamoxifen works!

Take care, and try not to worry x

My motto is sh*t happens too but also, I wonder if this is because it suits me as I can’t say I’ve been exemplary (sure chemo brain means I’ve not spelt that right!) but then again, most of my mates have FAR worse diets than me too and a lot are massive drinkers.

I just hope it all works too, I’m going to make a concerted effort to lose weight after all this, but I refuse to go all organic clean living running up mountains etc, it’s just NOT me and I’d be miserable as hell.


Hey Kat, I was an organic-living person who literally ran up and down mountains, and I got BC.
Sh*t happens, chuck.

If they really knew why anyone got cancer they would tell the world and we would all stop doing it. There are things that increase some peoples risk, but then people who dont do any of these things still get cancer.

There are lots of people on here who have saintly healthy lifestyles and that has not stopped them getting cancer.

I once posted that I have decided to carry on drinking even though i have cancer, there seemed to be two schools of thought. those who truly believe that diet and lifestyle can help reduce the risk, and those that say there is not enough proof and who have decided perhaps to improve the way the eat to improve their overall health but not to beat them selves up about it.

I do not excercise(but i am doing the stretches to get my arm movement back)I am an ok weight for my age, and i certainly love a drink. And that is how I am going to carry on.

I too have wondered–why me??? we do not have any cancer anywhere in the family, so what did i do wrong. The only difference between me and the rest of the tribe is that I am the only one that has never smoked–makes you think doesnt it.

Exactly, if you want to lose weight then that’s brill, as being slimmer makes us feel better, and a good excuse for some retail therapy! but as you say when I was first dx I looked at people I worked with one drinks 2 bottles of wine EVERY night, one chain smokes at every opportunity and I was completely gobsmacked as to ‘why me’ and not them.

Good luck with the diet! Hope you are successful, and tamoxifen doesn’t make it harder (ive noticed weight creeping up, due to tamoxifen)

Take care x

Diet, alcohol, being overweight etc are things that can affect our risk of getting cancer. So not everyone that drinks or eats an unhealthy diet will get cancer, but those that have that lifestyle have a higher risk.

The other thing to remember is those lifestyle factors often raise the risk of other diseases too such as diabetes, heart disease and liver disease etc. People with the most unhealthy lifestyles rarely get away without suffering poor health as they get older.

Many other factors are probably coming into play with BC and we probably still only know some of them.

Each of us has to decide how much we want to reduce our risk of diseases by having a healthier lifestyle. It’s a constant weigh up isn’t it between the pleasures of life and our health. It always has been but the message has only sunk in since I was diagnosed. So tough though!

Elinda x

Hi Kat,

I’m 33. Sometimes I think the same. And then I think why NOT me! People under 40 do get breast cancer.

I went on the Young Women’s Forum at the weekend which was excellent. Diet had concerned me. I’ve put on lots of weight due to an underactive thyroid and was finding it very difficult to shift BEFORE adding on the effects of steroids and lethargy that come with the chemo! I was given a few books outlining different diets on how to “save my own life” but they were all conflicting - some said no dairy. Some said dairy was good etc. The dietician on the forum (who had had cancer herself) just outlined a normal natural diet. She said low fat dairy is proven to be GOOD for breast cancer and that there is no proof either way when it comes to soy. She didn’t advocate juicing - but just sticking to your 5-a-day. Lean meats rather than lots of fatty read meat. All of the stuff we know really. And sticking within the recommended units (she didn’t say to give up alocohol!).

The funny thing was that the lady who specialised in reconstruction didn’t want us to lose any weight so we’d have a nice amount of fat for redoing the boobies!

Unfortunately nobody knows WHY we get cancer. And even if we are BRCA carriers (I’m currently awaiting results) it’s still bl**dy bad luck to get it this young!!

I’d really recommend one of the forums if you think it might help you. It was great to meet similar aged girls going through the same issues (infertility, body image at a young age, feeling isolated etc).


El Katrano, good question but one that medicine is not able to answer often. I was told that 1 in 4 cases of breast cancer happens in young women, and that lifestyle only accounts for a few percentage points of the total chance of getting the illness.

It is not fair I did every thing I should had no risk factors and still got it. I wasnt classed as young but being diagnosed when I was 47 was bad enough.

I’ve found myself asking the same question since being diagnosed 2 months ago. There really doesn’t seem to be any answer; at least no-one can tell me. There’s no history in my family, I am not (at the moment) overweight, I exercised regularly, only drink in moderation, eat healthily and don’t smoke (gave up 12 years ago). All I can say is it really is shit basically. Not quite what I expected to be given for my 40th birthday!! x

Hey Kat

I was 34 when diagnosed as well. No history of cancer (any kind) in my family. I blamed myself for it, for drinking way too much, the oncologist had said to cut out alcohol but i’m finding it way too hard :frowning:

I do all the other things I’m not supposed to … eat microwave meals, put way too much salt on my food, drink more than a bottle of wine every night, don’t exercise, get stressed… I had good intentions after my surgery of leading a healthier life, but it’s difficult!! I used to smoke a couple of fags every night but stopped that completely after my diagnosis - that was easy to do as in my head smoking = cancer, so the fags had to go!

Maybe it’s the combination of all these things that has caused it for me. I have 2 older sisters who drink excessively too and they are fine!

I agree with sunflower … it’s shit! I was about to say ‘keep your chin up’ but then realised that is the kind of annoying thing folk say to me ;D Lynne x

I echo all of the other comments - it’s just shit luck.

I’m 30, admittedly I do all of the wrong things, it wasn’t until i started eating right, cutting out the alcohol and lost 3 stone that I got cancer - some reward!!!

Do what makes you happy 'cos everyone knows there’s enough to be miserable about!

did the oncologist say why to cut out alcohol and for how long.

i love a bottle of wine, or a few pints of bitter or both. I asked my consultant about drinking during radiotheapy and he said everything in moderations, dont drink so much that you get a hangover. Oddly enought thats what my doctor said when i was pregnant–they had different attitudes 40 years ago.

However I made a very bold decision last night. I have already put on about 5 pounds. presumably because i have not done much since my operation, in fact since i first found the lump I have been shocked into inactivity. I read that people can put on weight with tamoixifan and at my age . it would be very hard to loose it after the 5 years.

so I am not going to drink until after my rad treatment. That will give my body a bit of a clense before the rads start anyway, but hopefully also mean that I loose weight without actually going on a diet, before i start taking the tamoxifan. It cannot do any harm can it.

Mind you I have just heard the champagne corks go downstairs, that is not fair, or they doing it to tempt me on my first night!!

I love you ladies :slight_smile:

Do what makes you happy seems to be the way forward.
I’m sat here now with a nice bottle of Rioja because I’ve got Chemo on Tues, so as of Sunday I will not drink any alcohol for 2 weeks at least. I missed out on my birthday too as I felt sh*t.
I won’t beat myself up too much.
I need to loose weight though, I’m 5 1/2 stone over what I should be!

Aye the oncologist said to cut it out forever!!! She said if i HAD to have a drink then 1 unit a week would be OK. There is a strong link between alcohol and breast cancer apparently.

I usually manage to abstain for about a week after my chemo cos I dont feel like a drink, but after that it’s back to business! Need to knock it on the head as can’t afford it anymore and i’m piling on the pounds - loads of reasons to stop, funny how that makes me want to reach for the bottle!! ;D

If tamoxifen makes you gain weight that’s me doomed as I’m getting that for 5 years after all this treatment is finished. I’ve gained 4kgs since starting chemo … i was blaming the steroids instead of the wine and cider ;D

Good luck with your plan :smiley: Lynne x

I was told max of 1 unit a week whilst on chemo. But after that back to the 14 units per week but with 2 days off a week in order to give the liver a break and also not to save all of the units and binge drink!

I’m on a fortnightly chemo programme and feel nauseaus for 10 days after chemo - so don’t really feel like drinking at the moment. But finding it hard to find things to do when meeting up with friends if it doesn’t involve drinking or eating!!

BUT there’s no PROOF of anything - otherwise it would all be so much more straightforward!! I’m definitely going to be healthier and get down to a healthy weight (apparently fat cells generate or contain more oestrogen - can’t remember which!! - so if you’re ER+ then there is proof that being of a healthy BMI is better for you in your battle with breast cancer. I’d need to lose a couple of stone for that too.) but I will do it in a healthy way and enjoy myself too. I’ve met some people who have become obsessed with only eating raw, juiced vegetables and living on a vegan diet, only drinking mineral water. That’s just not me!! But I have cut out butter and cheese recently (I thought that would be difficult, but it’s been easy peasy so far…ask me again when I’m offered a big cheese board…!).

Maybe we should start a weight-loss thread and encourage each other to lose some weight? Or do you think that’s too much pressure on top of everything else at the moment? (She says while tucking into a mini bar of Green and Blacks…!)


Hi El Katrano

In adult terms 34 is young to have cancer but remember that children also get cancer, babies, toddlers, school children, pre-teens and teenagers. Why is that? What have they done? Unfortunately for some people/kids it is their destiny to get cancer, crap as it is but something that you can’t change. I was dx at 39 and am coming up to 45 and can’t tell you how relieved I am to be here, didn’t think I would get this far. There are lots of people I know who fight age creeping up on them but I am so grateful to be an extra year older, sometimes I find I’m wishing my life away dreaming of the fact that maybe I could be 60 one day and have seen my children grow into adults. Genetics and risk factors certainly play their part and for others it is just bad bad luck. Cancer in one way or another has been at the forefront of my family’s lives since 1998 - I feel cancer’ed out. Try and not dwell on something you can’t change but concentrate on something you can change maybe if that would help. Love xxx

I had just turned 31 when i was diagnosed. 2 weeks later it was discovered I was stage 4. I was 3 months pregnant. People talk about being lucky to live 8 years. That means i wont see my 40th Birthday. I feel its so unfair. My eldest child is 3! I want to be around for my children.
I drink (drank!) moderatly. Have smoked in the past but never that many. I eat fairly healthily. Its not fair. I feel like my future has been taken from me.


I have followed your story for a while on this forum - and it is such a sad tale. But you never know what the future holds. Research is ongoing and who knows what drugs there will be in a few years time? And there are people on here who have lived with secondaries for a long, long time.

I’m stage 3 but am scared about my prognosis and don’t know what the future holds in terms of spread, so I’m holding onto this hope too.

Sending lots of love, xxx.