Thursday, January 31, 2008

Genealogy can save your life

  • GGG-grandfather William Denyer – 1794-1848 (age 54 – cause unknown)
  • GGG-grandmother Elizabeth (Sliver) Denyer – 1798-1840 (age 42 - unknown)
  • GG-grandfather Ebenezer Denyer –1828-1872 (age 44 - unknown)
  • G-Grandmother Margaret (Denyer) Van Every– 1868 – 1923 (age 55 – Chronic Interstitial Nephritis - a kidney ailment)
  • Grandmother Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch – 1900 – 1951 (age 51 – intestinal cancer)

A close look at these names and dates reveals a frightening pattern for anyone. It's true that in the 19th century early deaths weren't exactly uncommon, so it isn't conclusive. But it's enough to be concerned. I will note that my mother is in fine health, and was surpassing her ancestors' ages back when Reagan and Bush Sr were in office.

That's my mother's side. On my father's side, I have two more grandparents who had colon cancer, though they lived into their 80s. A close relative, in their early 40s, had their first colonoscopy done last year – benign polyps were discovered and removed. So I just turned 39 a week ago, and while the magic year for those with my risk factors is 40, I'm not waiting a year on ceremony. My doctor agrees, and we're in the process of scheduling a date.

Do you know if you have any genetic risk factors? Someday maybe a DNA test will tell us, but for now, we need to know when our ancestors died, and what they died from. Genealogy can, literally, save lives.

(I knew about my grandparents prior to beginning my research, which was more than enough to get tested. And I haven't been tested yet, so I don't know what the results will be. So while I can't say my particular research saved my life, it did uncover an even scarier picture in my mother's line. But if you don't know what killed your ancestors, finding out could save yours.)

1 comment:

Terry Thornton said...

John, I'm so sorry about these early deaths in your family line. But I'm so glad you've scheduled a test. Thank you for such an important post about such a dreadful disease that does seem to have a genetic link. You've done the blogging world a great service with this information. Thank you.