Genetic Testing – What Would You Do If You Knew?

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in Cancer In General, Lessons I Have Learned | 6 comments

What would you do if you found out you had genetic disposition for a disease? Would you live differently?

I read a post today in a private forum I spend time in from a man who had found a website that could test you to see if you had the genetic disposition for just about every condition under the sun.  He was unsure about whether he would like to try it, to see if he was at higher risk for some of the conditions they could test for.

Here is a reply that I posted in that thread:

(Photo courtesy of Svilen Milev –



I’m torn on this – and here’s why:

On the one hand, yes it may be good to be proactive and see what genes you might have that could cause you to end up with one of these diseases or conditions.


I went in for genetic counselling to see if I carried a gene that would make my kids more likely to get breast cancer in the future. It was determined that it wasn’t likely, and the only one who would be at higher risk was my sister who shares the exact same genetic makeup.


But, obviously my kids will be at a higher risk, as will my nieces and other women in my family, just due to the fact that I had it. Genetic testing really is only a formality as far as I’m concerned. My sister now goes for yearly mammograms, as does my mom – and I am already educating my daughters that they will have to be very proactive when they get older.


The truth is, if you have someone in your family with a condition, you are likely at a higher risk. You don’t need to be tested to know that – just live proactively making sure you stay on top of any concerns you have.


Both my maternal and paternal grandma’s have macular degeneration. It is known to be hereditary. So, most likely, I will have to deal with that someday in the future. One of my aunts already has it.


I am already screened for it at every eye test simply because of my family history, so I am hopeful that if I get it, it will be caught early.


But would being tested to see if I was likely to get it change anything? No, because I already am doing what I can to ensure I am prepared.


I hear what you are saying about Alzheimer’s. That would be a horrible thing to inherit. And, you say maybe you should be tested to know if you would be at a higher risk, or will possibly develop it – that maybe you would live a little differently if you knew.


Here is my suggestion for everyone – live like you ARE going to get it someday. Maybe even live like you are going to get cancer some day. And, yes, that you will some day be blind and even deaf.


No one knows what the future holds – and genetic testing can’t give you definites.


What if you found out that you had a high likelihood of getting some horrible condition like Alzheimers and you spent your whole life worrying, and seeing doctors – only to never get it.


Why not just assume you will get everything – and just live like you know that.


Because you will be blind some day, commit everything to memory – every flower, every face you care about – really take the time to see them, with the thought that some day you might not be able to.


Enjoy every moment with family and friends, knowing that perhaps someday the time will come that you won’t remember them.


You really don’t need testing to make sure you do all of that – everyone should be doing it anyway.


Trust me – the summer I was diagnosed with cancer, and I didn’t know what my future held, I would sit outside and really hear the sounds – the birds singing, my kids playing, even the wind. I smelled grass being mowed, I felt the warmth of the sun…..and I made sure that I did as many things as I could to make memories for myself and my loved ones.


And, even though at this moment it appears I have beat it, I no longer live with that “it won’t happen to me – it only happens to other people” way of thinking. I know it can come back. I know that I can get anything else.


So now I really take the time to enjoy every little detail of every single moment. And the truth is, everyone really should try living that way – regardless of what any genetic testing says.


Just my long winded 2 cents:-)


What is your opinion?  Have you been tested?  Would you want to know if you were likely to get any of the many conditions you could be tested for?


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  1. Nope, wouldn’t want to know. Life is too short to worry about what “might” happen.
    deb recently posted..Beef Vegetable Lettuce Boats #CookClassicoMy Profile

    • That’s exactly what I think. Sometimes it’s just better to let life happen as it’s meant to – without worrying about all the “what if’s”.

      Thanks for commenting!


  2. My Dad died from complications of a genetic disorder. My Aunt also suffers from the same condition. I didn’t know about this until AFTER I had my first daughter (didn’t know him until I was an adult).

    It did worry me thinking about it but I’ve had myself tested to know I am a carrier
    MommyJenna recently posted..Printable Coupons for Jan. 11, 2013My Profile

  3. Breast cancer runs rampant in my family, and I had a referral for genetic testing, which could possibly indicate whether I would get it. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the appointment. I’m not sure why, I just couldn’t. So I guess I don’t want to know.
    Sheri recently posted..The Diaper Genie Elite is a hit with Moms!My Profile

  4. I plan on doing testing for breast cancer since it runs in my family. I think if you know your chances ahead of time you are more likely to catch it while it’s treatable!
    Meghan recently posted..Raspberry Frozen Yogurt – Low CalorieMy Profile

  5. I agree completely! Too many people spend their lives living in fear of the unknown and miss out on what’s happening right now.


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