Thursday, April 5, 2012

So, my DNA results finally came in

  It didn't take me much time to decide that I was going to send in a spit sample when Holly first mentioned the 23andMe opportunity in class.  While I waited for the results I never doubted my choice to have my genome mapped (or at least part of my genome) and didn't have any concerns about sharing whatever my DNA might reveal with others.  So, it came as a shock to me that, when I got an email saying my report was in during a family party last weekend, I suddenly felt overwhelmingly protective of the results.  As I went through my disease risk, then my carrier status, then my drug response and so on, I felt increasingly confident in sharing 23andMe's findings with family members who found the whole genome mapping thing very interesting.
  It wasn't until later that I could actually think about why, in those first few minutes after getting my DNA results, I had felt anxiety.  The idea of making my genome public to strangers, never mind family members, doesn't scare me so why had I hesitated?  I think the answer is that I was with family members, not strangers, and the information I was about to report had almost as much to do with them as it did with me.  Knowing that whatever showed up in my DNA was inherited either from my mom or my dad made me want to shield them from anything bad that might turn up.  As I went through more and more of the results and found nothing alarming, I relaxed and wanted to share every little bit of information with anyone who would listen.
  Looking back after having read my results I realize I probably wasn't as prepared to get them back as I thought.  I knew there were possibilities for high disease risk for things like Alzheimer's and diabetes but I had only thought about how those results would make me feel about myself.  But honestly, when I think about it now, if I were at higher risk for, say, Alzheimer's I'd be much more emotional about the implications of that finding for my parents rather than for myself.  So while my results were reassuring, I can't help but think about what it would be like if it had gone the other way.  I still believe that knowing is better than not knowing, since the information is there whether you want to see it or not, but I also believe that its extremely difficult to completely prepare for something like this.  I think fully understanding the implications of having your genome mapped comes only after you receive your own results.  That's when you can begin to fully accept the findings and come to terms with what they mean.

... with all that said I am as confident as ever in my decision to have my DNA tested and I would do it again in a heart beat.     


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