This week is a crazy week for me. For those of you in Florida, remember that this coming weekend is the Florida State Genealogy Conference in Orlando with Keynote Speaker, Lloyd Dewitt Bockstruck. I'll be doing two lectures on Friday, November 11th...Putting Your Family Tree Online and Sources for Irish Research. Normally I'd spend the two days there, but our fall Key Chorale concert, featuring the Britten Saint Nicholas Cantata is on Saturday in Venice. Tickets are still available from the website if you're in the area.
I received an email this past week that the Irish Family History Foundation has a special for the month of November...transcriptions of church records are €3.50 during the month of November rather than the normal €5. They've been adding records to their collection, including the records for County Waterford. This is a great chance to check on those church records at the lower price.
Now to the topic of the week...this is a reminder that November is Family Health History Month, with Thanksgiving Day set aside by the Surgeon General as Family Health History Day. Since families tend to be together on that day, it's a great time to discuss the implications of your research. I usually write about this close to Thanksgiving, but this year I'm giving you a couple of weeks warning. Why not pull out and check your records in order to provide your family with a health history. You're probably the only one who knows what grandfather died of, and putting that information together could save the life of someone in your family. Does your family have a history of heart disease or a particular cancer? Knowing that information and discussing it with your doctor can help you decide what diagnostic tests make sense. Many diseases can be prevented or managed if you know about them. When I moved to Florida I had to select new doctors, and at the same time, my children were beginning the same process. It was at that point that I created our family medical pedigree and shared it with the immediate family. I didn't think to share it with a wider group of cousins as it covers both my husband's family and mine. This past summer one of my husband's cousins developed breast cancer in her mid 50's and there was a history of early onset breast cancer in that side of the family. Once you created your health history share it also with your cousins as well!
This past year I had some genetic testing done with 23 & Me, and took the results to my doctor at the time of my annual physical. Although some of the information was interesting, my doctor emphasized that my family history was more important than the results of the testing, as many of the diseases have multiple genetic markers, some of which are not yet being tested.
Although you can draw a medical pedigree an easier way to create it is by using My Family Health Portrait on the Surgeon Generals website. Once you've created the information, you save it to your computer for privacy. If you want to add information, you can upload and work on it, then save it again to your computer.
If you are interested in knowing more about the genetics of health, I strongly recommend Unlocking Your Genetic History by Dr. Thomas Shawker. You can find this book listed in the Methodology section of my Book list. You can also find links to sites discussing health history on my Links page.
You can find some of my previous blogs on Health History listed below.
Happy Health History Day (2009)
Health History (2008)
Genealogy and Health History (2007)