Your Family History and its Ability to Save Your Life

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Your Family History and its Ability to Save Your Life

by -

women looking at album

Pages of a photo album.
An annual family reunion.
Watching your children grow up.


These are just some of the simple moments of life that make you proud of the person you’ve become and of the family you call your own.  Even holidays, like our most recent celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, trigger us to reflect on our family history and where we’ve come from.  Aspects of your life, such as family medical history and heredity soon surface and you begin to see a bigger picture of who you are.  It’s this moment; the minute you dive into your family’s history, when you become proactive about your health.

At UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital, we understand just how important it is for an individual to educate themselves on their heredity and family medical history.  Having knowledge of genetic alterations in a family allows individuals to make informed decisions about preventative health care, including cancer prevention.  While some cancers happen by chance, there are contributing factors for some that increase an individual's risk of being diagnosed with cancer.  Heredity is one factor that has the potential to play a significant role in the development of certain cancers, whether that be breast, colon, ovarian, or endometrial.  When we have knowledge of such genetic alterations in our family, we are then given the power to make informed decisions about cancer prevention.

“Genetic counseling allows an individual to understand their risk for developing cancer,” shares Shana Coker, ARNP, MSN, genetic counselor with Finley Hospital’s Wendt Regional Cancer Center, “This information alone is a key to preventative health care. It empowers the patient to make an educated decision about their health.”

Offered at Finley Hospital’s Wendt Regional Cancer Center, genetic counseling enables an individual to educate themselves about their specific risks for cancer due to their particular family history.  During a genetic counseling session, patients meet with a trained genetic counselor who helps them, and their family, understand their inherited cancer risk.  Based on their history, they receive education about reducing their risk for cancer and information regarding genetics testing. Once your assessment and or testing is complete, our Wendt Regional Cancer Center is available to work with patients in reducing their risk of developing cancer.
You’re proud of your ancestry and the family you’re a part of.  However, your decision to take a closer look at your heredity and family medical history is what makes you an individual; someone empowered to take control of their health and health care.  Genetic counseling provides you with the resources to take control of your help; however, it’s up to you to determine the deciding factor on why to look further into genetic counseling. 

Is it so you can add more memories to your family photo albums?
Is it so you can RSVP your attendance to the next family reunion?
Or, maybe, it’s because you want to do everything you can to continue seeing your children grow up.