Friday, September 23, 2016

Genetics, Stubborness and Unstuck

About six months ago, similar to the time I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I decided to fork out the money to to learn my DNA. Part of my  motivation was that I happen to have a few rare genetic abnormalities, especially in my eyes, but then who doesn't. (This was before I knew I had a rare genetic lung cancer). It took three tries, as it turned out. Either my spit was not potent enough, or I wasn't coughing up enough. Finally a month or so ago the results were revealed. To my amusement I was mostly British Isles and Northern European, but I was also 28% Scandanavian. (I guess those Vikings made merry when they invaded England). The Ancestry profile also revealed I had several second cousins. So I picked one at random, and was delighted this week to hear from him, a real second cousin on my father's side named Gary, who is a rancher and politician near Trinidad, Colorado. I've been having great fun learning about him and his family. From my aunt Celia
(his great aunt) I inherited this photo of the Cross children, taken I imagine about 1898. They lived in a rough cabin in the Rockies, and according to Aunt Celia, it was an all day buggy ride to Trinidad to get the picture taken. My dad is the one on the  left, his brother Sandy  Sr. in the center, and then Celia, the oldest. Please note my father, dressed in a skirt as was the fashion,  has a stick in his right hand. According to Celia, he was playing in the yard with the stick when his mother called him in to get dressed for the trip. He refused to give up the stick, had a tantrum, and his mother finally dressed him with him still holding the stick. Even when they got  to town, the photographer was unable to get him to part with it, so the picture was taken with him still holding it. This was an example, Celia said, of his stubborness; a pattern, or gene, or trait, I'm guilty of  displaying as well.
I'm not especially proud of it, but sometimes it serves me well.
So I've finally decided, whether out of stubborness or just plain exasperation with research and doctors, to opt for trying the "pill" for my lung cancer. I'm satisfied that the robot radiation is not an option, nor is surgery, so that leaves me with the experimental pill to alter the genome, or to do nothing. It costs $12,000 a month, but insurance and other sources will pay for it, and if the side effects are too bad, I'll just stop it. Wish me luck, and that my stubborness works in my favor.

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