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Explore Your Family Health History

In just a few days, you’ll be sitting around a dinner table with your family and friends and maybe even a great-aunt you haven’t seen in a long time.

A group at Geisinger thinks it’s the perfect time to talk about your family’s medical history.

The more you know, the better you’ll be when it comes to preventative care. And experts have come up with a plan you can use for free to get the conversation started.

This is the time of year when lots of people will be packing the grocery store, getting ready for their Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas feasts. That’s what was happening already when we stopped by Weis Market in Danville last week.

Geisinger officials are hoping once the food has been prepared that the conversation can start.

“Family history allows us to look both at shared genetics and shared environment.”

Andy Faucett is a genomic researcher at Geisinger.   He says knowing your family medical history is the best way to know what to watch out for, what to potentially test for, and what not to worry about.  He also points out that it can save time and money with your doctor.

“If you don’t know your family history, he might want to test you for 10 different things.  If you do know your history, it might be one or two, said Faucett.

Enter National Family History Day, which is Thanksgiving Day, as declared by the Surgeon General in 2004.

Geisinger and Weis Markets have teamed up to create a public awareness campaign, and distribute a packet of info designed to collect certain information while you have access to many of your family members.

Weis Markets will be giving out more information about the campaign for the next few weeks at select pharmacies in the region.

“Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days of the year.  Everybody gets together,” said Dennis Curtin at Weis Markets.

“It just resonated with us.  It makes perfect sense,” said Audrey Fan.

Fan helped create the resources and says there are even activities for the kids.

“When did Aunt Dottie have breast cancer?  Was it at 30 or 66?  Very big difference.  And that’s the type of info we want to collect,” Fan said.

Fan wants to reassure that the info collected remains your family’s business to be discussed with your own doctor. She says, as a genetic counselor, she often talks with people who wish they’d asked the right questions when they had the chance.

“Especially when someone goes, ‘oh, my goodness, Aunt Mabel would have known that, but she passed away last year.’”

If you’d like to take a look at the program, you can find it online, and it’s free. Click here for more information.


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