Let’s be honest. Taking a genetic test that could tell you your potential predispositions for specific medical conditions can be frightening. Cue the what-ifs, and worst-case scenarios that are moving through your head. But here is what I will tell you, from my personal experience, once you let go of expectation and let go of all the negative what-ifs, you’re left with a marvelous opportunity to truly embrace and take control of your health with the knowledge to make informed decisions and better plan for your future and your family’s future.
“Knowledge is a powerful thing. Take control of your health, don’t be afraid of your genetic information – it’s there to allow you and your physician to make educated decisions about your health, your family’s health, and to be prepared for what lies ahead.”
So, let’s start at the beginning of my journey – my knowledge of genetic testing was only related to ancestry. My father recently took an ancestry DNA test, and it was interesting to see all the different regions from which his ancestors appeared. It’s crazy to know that just a bit of saliva can tell you all that information.
Upon being introduced to genetic testing for medical predispositions, I was floored that again just a cheek swab was required to collect DNA, no blood draw! There are multiple genetic tests available. I took Cancer Insight, Carrier Insight, Pharmacogenomic Insight, and Cardiac Insight screenings.
I have always been health-conscious and consider myself in good health as a 30 something, vegetarian, and part-time yoga teacher. So, I jumped at the opportunity to gain insight into my health as well as genetics. Now, even though I was eager to know what information lies in my DNA, a small part of me was a little nervous. Having a family history of cancer, cardiac issues, and other conditions always make you wonder if something has occurred because of lifestyle choices or because of a genetic predisposition.
Speaking with a patient services specialist at Privy Health and taking time to educate myself through some of their resources and educational videos, helped me to understand the process of genetic testing, as well as put my mind at ease at how it worked, and what laws protect my privacy.
The entire process was super easy. The actual saliva collection is complete via a buccal swab. The Privy Health team works with my insurance, so for me, the tests were all covered. *Note: I do recommend filling out the personal and family medical history form at home, when you have plenty of time, as it does take about 20 mins to fill out (especially if you need to reference your prescriptions or double-check any family history, etc.).
I got my Privy Health Insight results through a secure online portal about 6-8 weeks after taking the test. They were easy to access, and I could choose to keep them private or share them with my physician.
“I was shocked that I inherited a certain genetic mutation, that if passed down could cause mild-to-severe health conditions in future children. I had no idea, and as a 30 something, recently married, with plans to start a family – this information is invaluable to me.”
My test results came back normal, except for one, the Carrier Insight screening. I was shocked that I inherited a particular genetic mutation that if passed down, could cause mild to severe health conditions in future children, especially if my husband has the same genetic variation. I had no idea, and as a 30 something, recently married, with plans to start a family – this information is invaluable to me. After speaking with a genetic counselor, I now know what options I have as we plan for our family, what actual percentage of risk there is, and additional genetic testing available.
Knowledge is a powerful thing. If you have a predisposition towards a genetic condition it doesn’t mean you will develop that condition, or pass it down to your children, just because you have multiple family members with a medical condition, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is inherited. Your lifestyle choices have a tremendous impact on health and age. Take control of your health, and don’t be afraid of your genetic information. It is there to allow you and your physician to make educated decisions about you and your family’s health to be better prepared for the future.