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Skimming the Polluted Gene Pool

August 5, 2008

My Mom was adopted, so I have little medical history from her biological side of the family. We have contact with two of her siblings and a little info on her Mom and Dad, but until recently nothing helpful like – ‘Oh, did we mention several of your Aunts and Uncles as well as your Grandmother died of colon cancer?” Yeah, that would have been a nice heads up. But alas, they were raised in different times and folks just didn’t talk about such things or even think to make contact with natural parents/relatives for this kind of information. I reallY wish we could have some type of database for adopted children to have access anonymously to their medical history. Biological parents could update the history anonymously and make sure that their natural children were alerted to any health risks or genetic testing info if they wanted. I know the idea is frought with privacy peril and legal crap, but it would be SO EASY to do and help so many families. (arrrgh!)

My Mom called recently to let me know that several of my relatives on her biological side of the family lived to be over 100, so I must have some good hearty genes in there too. While I know she meant to be encouraging, all I really wanted to say was “You know which ones lived to be 100? The ones who DIDN’T GET COLON CANCER!” But I didn’t.

Aparantly the state of the art treatment my biological grandmother recieved was a nugget of uranium implanted in her belly. Can you freakin imagine?! Overall I consider myself fortunate. My Doc told me that my chances of getting this hereditary type of cancer before I was 40 was about 80%. Well crap, thank God I got it at 38. Five years ago they didn’t even operate on this type of cancer and Avastin was still in clinical trials. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself “lucky”, but things could be much worse.

My Dad’s father will be 102 this fall. He’s awesome and still very mentally sharp and still smokes a pipe everyday, God bless him. Sadly, he has outlived 3 of his 5 children. I wonder if living to be 100 is all its cracked up to be, anyway.

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