Genes — July 13, 2019

Genes

By Judith Campbell

Genes, genes, genes. It’s all about the genes. Do you have the cancer gene, the diabetes gene, the celiac disease gene? It goes on and on. Those biochemical units of inheritance transmitted by a chromosome determine our lives. Whatever grandpa had, I may have. I know how important all of this is. We need to know this stuff.

The problem is this information elicits another gene – the “worry” gene. You may say, “That’s not a gene.” Maybe not. My mother was a worrier. I am a worrier. My children are worriers. Environmental? Have we passed that behavior on? Maybe. What I do know is, this plethora of gene data makes me crazy. Of course you may say I have the “crazy” gene. Was great Uncle Carl nuts? But I digress.

Let me explain this angst of mine. My daughter was recently diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) with celiac disease, (gluten intolerance). Uncle Ted had celiac disease. That good old gene theory rears its ugly head. Her doctor is going to give her the gene test to determine whether she has the gene. If she doesn’t, that’s not her disease even if Uncle Ted had it. If she does, then the rest of the family has another disease to put on their list of possible misfortunes in the future.

We already have plenty of those if we start adding up all of our relatives’ maladies. My mother died of Cervical Cancer. I had Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer. My husband died of Leukemia. My brother has Diabetes. My poor kids. If they have all of those genes they are sure to die of worry, if not the condition, since we’re all worriers.

My niece ,while in her early 40’s, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The GENE! She was tested for the gene and alas, does have it. Rather than worry though, she was proactive and had a double mastectomy and hysterectomy. Drastic? Probably not. She thinks my two daughters should be tested. It‘s a dilemma. Do you wait for the “shoe to drop?” Do you have the test or do you just worry? My daughter (with maybe, Celiac Disease) has enough to worry about right now. Should we throw in a few more possibilities?

I don’t know whether I have the GENE and I don’t want to know. I worry enough already and I’m not having any more of my parts removed at this stage of my life. I’m already walking around with one breast and no female parts. I don’t miss the female parts but I’m somewhat attached to my remaining breast.

The jury is out for my daughters. I don’t know the answer. We’re living in the information age. We have so much information on the news, the internet, everywhere, that we’re all in a state of constant WORRY. Worry causes other problems; high blood pressure, heart attacks, maybe even cancer. Is all of this information killing us or curing us?

All I know is that I’d love to have that “I’ll think about it tomorrow” gene that Scarlet had.

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