I'll be honest, a few days after my mom was diagnosed with cancer 2 weeks ago, I started freaking out. My dad's mom had the same type of breast cancer as my mom so I started psyching myself out, worrying that maybe they both had a genetic predisposition to that type of breast cancer. And I was scared that my boobs were going to suddenly turn against me and fill me up with cancer. Yea, I have a very active imagination so things have not been so easy for me the last few weeks.
I called my dad and asked if my mom could get a genetic test at the hospital to see if she has a genetic trait that makes me more likely for me to get breast cancer. He said that it would be literally thousands of dollars to get it done at the hospital. But he said 23andMe offers that same test along with a ton of other tests for you DNA for $99. Don't worry kids, this ain't a scam. This is for real!
I decided to go ahead and do 23andMe because it is a lot more fun way of learning about your genetic history than just freaking out about whether or not I have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. I am actually kind of obsessed with family history. My mom did genealogy for others while we lived in England and she and my dad have done extensive research on my own family's history. My parents have already each done a DNA test to learn about their racial history and they found out some amazing things. My mom knew she was a mixture of European things, mostly English and French. But her mom was very tan with coarse jet black hair and deep brown eyes so she always wondered if maybe she was part Native American. She found out that actually she is 1/8 Sub Saharan African! My dad knew he was 1/8 Cherokee and a mixture or English & Norwegian. But he didn't know he was more Jewish that he is Cherokee, and he is a tiny bit Macedonian, Indian, Pakistani, and Gypsy! Seriously, what? So I guess I am basically a mixture of the world minus Asia, sorry Asia. My parents actually know that one of our ancestors was born on the Mayflower! So I guess we are pretty hardcore example of how America really is an amalgamation of so many different types of people. I really love that about my family history.
My dad's side of the family has a lot of problems with Auto Immune Diseases. And what's interesting learning about genetic history is that Auto Immune Diseases are very common for people who are genetically Jewish. It makes more sense now that he knows he is more Jewish than anything else genetically. I actually had a freak out moment in college when I found out I was so mixed racially, not because I was racist or something, but because I became really curious and overwhelmed with how to define myself racially. I was pissed off that just because my skin is pale, I am "supposed" to mark myself as Caucasian on forms. I didn't and still don't feel like I am just "White," I feel like a beautiful rainbow of my family's history. At the time, I was already still dealing with the fact that I was raised as a British person in England until I was 8 so my personality even in college more suited English culture. But my passort says I am American and my parents are American, and by college I had lived in the US longer than England. Even at 21 I was still searching for who I was culturally & racially because of the genetic discoveries and because of being raised in a different culture where I identified as being OF that culture. I actually wrote a song about being lost as to who I was culturally & racially in college which you can listen to here. (I used to be a musician, if you didn't know :)
Perhaps because that type of questioning of who I am has played such an enormous role in my life, I now am feeling that same intensity of curiosity & questioning when it comes to my genetic health predispositions. Blame my curious spirit. For me, when I learn anything new or start to delve into a subject deeper, I always feel a deeper sense of mystery and peace at the same time. I feel comforted when I know that things are more complex than I first realized, I feel more at peace when I recognize things are not straightforward or simply answered through delving deeper. So because of this, I really want to get my DNA tested through 23andMe. Learning more about myself genetically will give a few answers but will open up even more questions and that makes me feel more at peace with the complexity of my body and my health. I am excited. :)
Have you ever thought about getting a DNA test to learn more about your inherited traits, your ethnicity, or anything else? If you are adopted and are really curious & excited about learning more about your genetic history, I think this could be so amazing and interesting. Let me know if you have done a DNA test like this! My parents did this test through National Geographic a few years ago to learn about their racial history. With both the National Geographic test and 23andMe you can even find out if you are descended from Neanderthals! So amazing!