The Holidays Are a Perfect Time to Discuss Your Family Medical History

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

The holidays are that very special time of the year when families quite often gather together to enjoy the time together And often we find that the ladies will end up together in the kitchen, catching up on all the latest family news while the men are off in another part of the house, probably watching s sporting event on television. This is the time when we most likely share all of our secrets about personal relationships and the events and occasions that were shared with our friends and other family members since the last time we all got together. So what better time is there to share with each other what may be the most important information and that is our family’s medical history!

Give your family member the gift of sharing everything that you know about the family’s medical history. Let her know if someone has had breast cancer in generations pastBarbara Jacoby

I remember those times that I spent with my aunts and cousins and we talked and talked and talked. However, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and asked about my family’s history, I remember having one aunt and her daughter who I was told died from breast cancer but I had no idea about anyone else. At this time, my mother and her sisters had all passed away and I never knew my maternal grandmother so I have no idea what her history and that of her family may have been. After all, my grandmother died when my mom was 15 years old and I don’t even know if she had a sister because we never spoke about her.

On my father’s side of the family, my grandmother and her siblings were all long gone and I barely knew anything about my cousins since the family was never close so the more I thought about it, I realized that while I had done my best to provide information, I just didn’t have it to share. After all, you just didn’t talk about things like that when it came to my mother’s generation, at least not with the “kids”. It wasn’t a proper thing to do. In fact, things like this not only weren’t discussed in front of the children but they were hidden in dialogue exchanged in a different language all together.

Hopefully, that is no longer the case but most of us know that the word “cancer” is seldom spoken unless it is absolutely necessary. But we also realize what a disservice we are doing to the women in our families by not having this discussion. I would never know about the medical experiences of an aunt unless my cousin would be willing to share. I would never know anything about my father’s side of the family unless my grandmother would have been willing to tell us about what may have occurred with her sisters and her parents’ families. But, now that there is so much more open discussion, mostly because of the world of social media, we have definitely reached the point where these discussions should definitely be easier and something that we are smart enough to recognize their need.

Therefore, I would like to encourage every single woman who is fortunate enough to share the holidays with a female family member that you give her the greatest gift of all. It won’t cost you anything but may end up saving a life. Give your family member the gift of sharing everything that you know about the family’s medical history. Let her know if someone has had breast cancer in generations past. Let her know if you have had any problems or scares from your own medical tests. Let her know that you want everything that is best for her and that you are not trying to alarm her but rather educate her so that based upon the knowledge that you might be able to provide, she may better be able to alert her doctor to anything that should be watched or tested. It may not be easy to start this dialogue but you may find that it may ultimately be one of the greatest gifts that you can share with one another this holiday season. And hopefully, it may be the beginning for further sharing in your own family as well as encouraging your friends to do the same in their own families. You will be glad that you did.