Wednesday, September 26, 2012


If you had a crystal ball, what would you want to know about your future?

When I was a teenager, I learned how to tell fortunes. I also checked my horoscope in the daily newspaper.

Even now that I’m older and wiser, and have gathered lots of life experience, I still occasionally glance at horoscopes, but the dates keep changing and what I see ... well. I never trusted horoscopes, or what I learned about myself after reading my palm.

Have I ever seriously considered talking to a physic somebody about love things, or career things? No. My own inner calculator that’s chock full of data on my own experiences, is the best adviser I have on love and career stuff, but health ...gee ... We get such a huge daily dose of cancer-heart-attack-death from TV -- constant references to heredity -- things that happened to someone in your family ...

I just read about a California company, 23andME that offers DNA testing. The company name sells its basic idea -- there are 23 chromosomes in a normal human cell -- 23andME tests them quickly, relatively inexpensively, and gives an ordinary person a “window” into their DNA.

The article in Time explained that 23ANDme was founded five years ago by Linda Avery and Anne Wojcicki -- two women with top-drawer credits and years of experience in the field of genetic testing. 23anME’s Genome Test Kit was named "Invention of the Year" by Time in 2008. Avery left the company to work specifically on Alzheimer's. Wojcicki runs the company now.

Aside from Wojcicki’s impeccable credentials, she's married to Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. Her mother, Brin’s mother-in-law, has Parkinson's. It's not surprising that Google invested $3,900,000 in the company.

Yes, there are other companies that do DNA testing, but none offer to get your results in eight weeks, for a $299 fee -- they charge between $1000 and $5000 for a DNA report that your doctor must explain to you.

Yes, I DO think about cancer, heart and kidney failure, Altzheimer’s and some of the other latest, hugely advertized diseases like "shingles," that may be brewing in me.

I could email 23andME; pay the fee, and they’ll send the Genome Test Kit. Then, I have to spit -- provide them with a 2.5 ML spit sample that they analyze on a DNA micro-tray of “Illumina." (They explain that it’s 960,000 specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms. They say you don’t need to know what the various terms mean -- the test results report will provide information that YOU can read, and evaluate yourself.)

Okay, I can read a report. I’ve seen pictures of DNA, heard stuff about ‘helixes” and predilections on crime shows. But the big question -- “how many years do you have left ...?”

It lumbers and bumps around in my mind

If I had known that I would be in a major accident that would totally affect my dancer’s body, my ability to eat, digest, and absorb nourishment from food, I don’t think I could have tackled the things I tackled. If I had known my plays would NOT get professional productions, that my books weren't going to get bought by an established book publisher, I don’t think I would have written, re-written, and revised them again and again. Dancing and writing have been the joy, the triumph, the fun in my life-- the raison d’etre.

And what about bad news? What if my DNA report tells me something BAD is going to happen to me? Oh my God, watching for signs of the bad stuff will become part of my daily life ...

Gallavanting on the Internet, I've looked at videos of medical people and ordinary folks with pro and con opinions about DNA testing. I even read a blog by a guy who bought the 23andME testing kit.

Hmmm .... Are you thinking hmmm with me?

Would you rather keep floating along, dancing along the way you’re dancing, or would you -- maybe not now, but at some point -- go ahead and find out where you’re heading?

Me? I’ll keep dancing. What about you?


Peggy Bechko said...

I'm a dancer, Em, I don't need to know everything, in fact it's better that we don't at times.

Carola said...

If I knew too much about my future, I would probably get profoundly depressed. Even if there were good things, I would focus on the bad things and get depressed about them.

RCToyPalace said...

Em, I prefer not to know the future, if it's even possible. I prefer to think of the journey as a multi-lane hwy. By changing lanes, we change our fate, or destiny.

Anonymous said...

I think everybody wonders about their futures and it is very interesting finding out thru DNA testing more info....what great technology we have today to do this. I don't really want to know how long I will live...I enjoy the spirit and fight to survive my challenges. Thanks for sharing this great blog! kam

Michele Brenton aka banana_the_poet said...

This is definitely one of those situations where ignorance is bliss.

E. P. Vaughn said...

What an awful thing it would be to know what's in store for us. I'm an eternal optimist, and I know for sure that tomorrow's going to be the best day of my life. I get disappointed a lot, but I keep the faith.

Think I'll just keep dancing, (stumbling), along.

Unknown said...

I think sometimes the bad news we get hurts enough when it hits suddenly. I don't know If I could cope if I knew it was coming and couldn't prevent it. The good news? I like surprises :)

Anonymous said...

I really would not like to know what illnesses I might get. I already know that there is a large history of heart disease on both sides of my family.

My mother had breast cancer and survived...went on to live another 35 years and died of either a heart attack or a stroke.

If I knew anymore than that it would make me worry too much. I know what runs in my family and that is enough for me.

If I learned new things, I might make myself ill from worrying.

Linda Phillips