Coping with everyday challenges

Every day, each one of us copes with numerous and generally unexpected challenges. Currently, I am trying to live in two different states in homes 750 miles apart. This has made my usual forgetfulness and disorganization more of a handicap than usual. I suspect much of this tendency is in my genes. So, I can't change that, can I?

The companies who sell genetic testing services online use our fears and inclinations to get us to buy something. We might think we are buying security--we'll know what's wrong with our genes so we can . . . Well, what can we do?

I'm not saying that being told we have a BRCA gene mutation is like the challenges I am running into today, but the way I am dealing with these might help others deal with problems that serious. O.K., here are some of the challenges I have dealt with today:

  • Discovered that my husband's computer is not in Portland, but in Ogden--where I searched thoroughly for it several times. Could it have been stolen? Maybe, but I'm not jumping to conclusions yet. How am I dealing with it? Ignore it until I return to Ogden.
  • Found out that I forgot to send a check to the Utah State Tax Commission for the money I owe on taxes last year. Solution: call the Utah State Tax Commission (Googled it to find the number), reached Lisa (without any button pushing) and was told to send the check to her and she'll see my account is credited. Now, where is that money??
  • No tickets for the Metropolitan Opera presentation in Portland April 28, although I know I bought them. Solution: reviewed my credit card billing (online of course) and found the number for Fandango (where my credit card says I charged the tickets). Sent them an e-mail with the details and they send me a copy of the confirmation to  bring to the theater.
  • Don't know when Dish network is coming to install the system in my new home. Solution: Google Dish network, write them an e-mail and ask. Result: an e-mail telling me when they'll be here.

As usual, you may be asking, "What has all this to do with genetic testing?" Very simply, I am suggesting that if you have a genetic test and receive a result that causes you concern or even may change your whole life, start thinking of creative ways to deal with it. Google the name of the condition diagnosed and learn more about it; look at Genetic Alliance's great site for information on genetic conditions; try WebMD. Contact a genetic counselor for an appointment, if you haven't already had one.

Use REPUTABLE sources for your information. If you read something and don't know whether or not to believe it, write to mgodfrey@geneforum.org and I'll do what I can to check it out for you. Oh, and don't forget to use your own support networks, including those who deliver your medical care.

Physicians are sometimes intimidated by people who do a lot of research on their condition and tell their doctor all about it. Don't let this stop you. The medical geneticists who spoke at the American College of Medical Genetics in Nashville remarked that patients often know more about rare genetic conditions than they do and that is good. That's why patient advocates are so important in the process of genetic testing. Your attitude toward your physician can show that you are deeply interested in your future and want to help by learning all you can or it can make you appear to be a threat. Naturally, the former solution is better.

Here's hoping your challenges are as small as the ones I've been dealing with today.

Marie Godfrey, PhD

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