I’m taking a bit of a detour from the memoirs and presenting some information to you; information that is scary, hopeful, and well…informative! Testing for many diseases exist that can range from a scraping of your throat, sticking that awful swab up your nose to test for the flu (when that was done to me I thought about that scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall), to blood being drawn to be run through a myriad of tests. And in many cases we want and need to have those tests done so that we can treat the disease. But what about for something that is much more daunting like cancer or Alzheimer’s?
Would you want to know if you were a high risk for such diseases as those before they ever began to manifest themselves?
Recently in the news Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy in order to prevent the breast cancer that tests indicated she was highly likely to get; she has since announced she may have further surgery to prevent the high potential for ovarian cancer which claimed her mother. Knowing that I had a high chance of developing any devastating disease, would scare the hell out of me to go in and be tested for. But unlike with Alzheimer’s, there are cures for those cancers and some very good preventative measures which given the option I’d probably do. But would I want to go in for a blood test that could tell me if I had a chance of developing this form of dementia?
The key word here is potential. The test is still being developed and as with many medical discoveries is in need of funding and more years of research. But if it were a genuinely tried and true test, would you take it? The aforementioned articles talk about if you knew would you change things about your life like what you ate, how you exercised, if you would have children? What a freaking conundrum! On one hand knowing your risk factor could help you in so many ways to modify your life; to make arrangements before they were needed and while you could still have control over things. But on the other hand, life is short and precious and why should you wait until you have a horrible diagnosis before you learn how to live life.
We should take care of these vessels that hold our spirits the best we can anyway. After all until science catches up with science fiction, these are the only bodies we are ever going to have. We should carpe diem every chance we get instead of postponing doing this, going there, seeing that, spending time with someone, etc.
My family history contains one mother, one first cousin, and one maternal grandfather who had/have Alzheimer’s. So far all things considered I’m pretty healthy for my age (and I am not about to tell you that number lol) but would I want to know? It has been scientifically shown that sometimes the disease does run in families and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just how the genetic dice roll. But would I want to know ahead of time? I unequivocally say NO! I’m anxious enough as it is just waiting to get my cholesterol numbers back from my physical. I’d have to be sedated while waiting for those test results which could either free or condemn me.
I’ve learned since being a caregiver to not put off things and to enjoy life the best one can because there is no promise of tomorrow. I could have a heart attack, get hit by a bus, eat some tainted food, or develop dementia. I’d rather enjoy my life as well as I can and do my very best to stay healthy without having that manner of cloud hanging over my head. Knowing that – if positive – ahead of time would send me into a spiral of depression which wouldn’t improve my standard of living one bit. I can’t and don’t want to live in that kind of fear (even though sometimes I do)…I want to live, period!
But your mileage may vary and you may want to know. And that is your right. I just hope that as they work at improving this predictive blood test that they work equally hard at finding a cure.
So would you want to know; would you take the test? Please share your thoughts…