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It Runs in the Family

I have extended family all over the world, some of whom I’ve never even met. I only recently found out that my mom had a brother and a fourth sister. I’ve heard stories about my mom’s family and her life in the Philippines, but whenever I asked questions, I never really got straight answers. I know a little more about my dad’s side and my Scandinavian and Irish roots, but trying to figure it all out feels like piecing together a puzzle with missing parts.

I recently had a call with a geneticist to go over my family history and found myself often answering, “I have no idea” or “I don’t really know much about them.” It was a real wake-up call. As I was able to be somewhat ignorant and naive in my younger years, I was disappointed in myself for not having answers. I thought I knew much more about the people who surrounded me my entire life.

The urgency of understanding my family’s health background became undeniable when my younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer—an unexpected diagnosis given our previous belief that cancer was not an issue in our family. Her diagnosis and the discovery of a genetic mutation made the need for genetic testing and preventive health measures a significant reality for me. It has been a reminder of the importance of being prepared for the unforeseeable.

It’s never too early to set up an estate plan because you never know what life might bring. Having a plan in place means your wishes are clear, and your assets and healthcare decisions will be handled just the way you want, giving you peace of mind no matter what happens.

Also, sharing family health history with your kids (when the time is right) is a great way to help them understand what health issues they might be more likely to face. It’s about informing them of any potential genetic risks so they can take proactive steps like regular screenings. This knowledge could also be helpful as they plan for their future.

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