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Genetic Testing: Easy, Cost-Effective

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I’ve been called many name and, most of the time, I ignore it and let it roll off my back. But last week, I got the ultimate compliment. I was ordained as one of the “Disruptive Women in Healthcare,” a blog site that invites anyone, particularly women, to speak up and challenge the health care status quo.

Since I got formal permission to be disruptive (as if I really needed to have someone tell me it’s OK), I am going to allow myself to be a bit irreverent in this blog entry. I apologize in advance.

The focus of this week’s blog is on the health benefits of personal genetic testing–an emerging area of medicine that intrigues many people when they read about it, but scares them too much to get tested themselves. Yes, the blog last week had a similar theme but was centered on the insight you can gain on your ancestral history. In full disclosure, that blog was just a set up; I used a heart-warming, personal story as a first step to getting your buy-in.

The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, and since then, companies have been springing up that offer personal genetic testing to consumers. The space is dominated by 3 companies: Pathway Genomics, Navigenics, and 23andMe. For anywhere between $350 and $999, testing kits can be purchased without a doctor’s order. Unfortunately, even as the price has come down, very few people choose to get their genetic testing done.

Why? “I don’t want find out something I don’t want to know.” “What if I find out I am higher risk for Lou Gehrigs disease?” My personal concern was learning that I might be at higher risk for developing Alzheimers. I was so scared that I stared at the test kit for three weeks before I spit into the vial and sent it in. I told my family that the results would come back in four to six weeks and the information “had the potential to change our life forever.” The drama (which I am pretty good at) was almost worthy of a gold statuette.

But, after going through the entire process, I realize that the worry, the procrastination, and the hand-wringing were wasted energy. The report results were relevant, practical and actionable–today.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.