The Gift of a Lifetime

Stephanie McKenna, 34, settled into her seat as her aircraft started its descent into Phoenix, Arizona. 

Thirty-six thousand ft under, Tom Chaney, a Marine Veteran and Stephanie’s newfound organic father, made his solution to the arrivals terminal of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Worldwide Airport to greet her for the first time.

Father and daughter shared an immediate bond. “Now we have so many similarities. It’s not even humorous. It’s ridiculous,” Tom stated.

Their emotional assembly was months within the making. And it began with a Christmas present. 

After expressing curiosity in studying extra about her id, Stephanie’s adoptive dad and mom gave her a 23andMe equipment for Christmas. That led Stephanie to her organic grandfather and, in the end, to Tom. 

For a lot of prospects, the present of 23andMe has been the present of a lifetime. Some, like Stephanie, have found members of the family. Some have skilled a brand new sense of connection and belonging. Nonetheless others have discovered worthwhile well being data that has allowed them to make knowledgeable decisions. Listed here are a couple of of their tales. 

 

Stephanie and her dad Tom, quickly after assembly in individual for the primary time.

The Present of Household 

In September 1988, simply 4 months after Melanie Pressley made the wrenching choice to place her toddler son up for adoption, she acquired a letter from his adoptive dad and mom that put her thoughts and coronary heart relaxed. 

“Pricey Beginning Mother of ‘Our’ Child,” it started. “Please, for those who ever marvel about him, know he’s beloved and we’ll try as onerous as doable to be good dad and mom.”

“It made me really feel like I had achieved the correct factor,” Melanie stated. 

Because the years handed, Melanie acquired married, had three kids, and put down roots in Ohio. However she by no means stopped questioning in regards to the baby she gave up, and he or she harbored hope that they’d someday reconnect. 

A mixed Mom’s Day and birthday present of 23andMe helped to comprehend that dream. Melanie’s report confirmed a DNA match with somebody who is likely to be her son 32-year-old Greg Vossler. She instantly reached out. The 2 started speaking often by way of electronic mail and textual content and so they finally met in person at Melanie’s residence this yr. 

“Melanie’s household coming into my life at this level has been a blessing,” Greg informed Fox Information. 

“It’s type of re-ignited some passions and pleasure.”

 

Melanie and her son Greg get their first hug.

The Present of Connection

In some ways, Katie Ares, Leigh Ann Baglin, and Scott McCreary are typical siblings. They’re comfy with one another and share a simple camaraderie. They discuss steadily buying and selling particulars, tales, and updates about their lives.

However not like most brothers and sisters, up till a couple of years in the past, the siblings didn’t know one another existed. 

Now of their 30s, the three had been all born in South Korea and adopted individually by households in the US. It was by likelihood that they every used 23andMe. 

Katie acquired a 23andMe equipment as a present from her employer. 

“I didn’t have any expectations from it,” Katie stated. “I simply thought, ‘OK, that is neat. It’s attention-grabbing. I’m wondering if something’s going to return of it.’

One thing did come of it. Opting-in and utilizing 23andMe’s DNA Family members device, Katie related along with her sister Leigh Ann and brother Scott for the primary time.

Scott described the expertise: “It’s simply completely insane assembly these folks that you simply’ve by no means recognized your entire life, however while you meet them, you fall proper into place, similar to you could have been collectively your total life.”

What’s subsequent for the trio? Catching up on misplaced time. They spent a weekend in Phoenix and hope to plan extra journeys quickly. Lastly being collectively was “superb and so enjoyable,” Leigh Ann stated. “It was a brief however very candy journey.” 

 

From left: Siblings Katie Ares, Scott McCreary and Leigh Ann Baglin in Phoenix.

The Present of Data

On Christmas morning in 2018, Margaret Fox tore the wrapping paper off a gift to find a 23andMe Well being + Ancestry equipment. Her household had all chipped in to purchase the kits for one another. 

“We thought it could be a enjoyable factor to take,” defined Mollie Gelburd, Margaret’s sister. “We had been by no means anticipating it could find yourself resulting in any kind of scientific change.”

Two months later, Margaret acquired an electronic mail from 23andMe letting her know her experiences had been prepared. After opting in to obtain her well being data and going by means of academic modules in regards to the experiences, she opened her BRCA1/BRCA2 (Chosen Variants) Genetic Well being Threat Report.* It indicated she had one of many three variants for which 23andMe checks. Margaret, who was solely 28 on the time, was shocked. She was conscious of her household’s Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, and he or she had a fantastic aunt who had battled breast and ovarian most cancers, however she “by no means believed it was one thing to be overly involved about.”

Females with one of many three variants 23andMe checks for — irrespective of their ancestry — have an elevated danger of growing sure cancers together with breast and ovarian. Armed with this data, Margaret sprang into motion. She arrange an appointment along with her common practitioner who referred her to a genetic counselor for follow-up testing. When her checks confirmed what she discovered in 23andMe’s report, Margaret started receiving common breast radiology checkups. This preventative monitoring continued for almost 18 months till someday she felt a small, painful lump in her breast. She was ultimately identified with Stage 2 breast most cancers. 

Margaret was instantly related to an oncologist and a surgeon and commenced IVF remedies to protect her fertility. 

At the moment she is partway by means of a 16-week course of chemotherapy and the prognosis, her sister stated, appears to be like good. 

Margaret acknowledged that her journey is just not the “conventional 23andMe success story.” “However in a approach, it’s,” she stated. “That is about survival. We caught this early.” 

Mollie agreed: “I usually take into consideration how grateful I’m for 23andMe’s well being check outcomes, which notified us of her standing and enabled her to interact in screenings she seemingly wouldn’t have pursued. Because of this check, her docs had been capable of catch her most cancers earlier than it unfold past the breast. I can’t assist however assume that the well being outcomes from 23andMe might have saved my sister’s life.”

 

Margaret (heart), surrounded by household on her marriage ceremony day.

 

This vacation season, give essentially the most significant present you’ll be able to 23andMe


*23andMe well being predisposition experiences embrace each experiences that meet FDA necessities for genetic well being dangers and experiences that are based mostly on 23andMe analysis and haven’t been reviewed by the FDA. The check makes use of qualitative genotyping to detect choose clinically related variants within the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the aim of reporting and decoding genetic well being dangers. It’s not meant to diagnose any illness. Your ethnicity might have an effect on the relevance of every report and the way your genetic well being danger outcomes are interpreted. Every genetic well being danger report describes if an individual has variants related to the next danger of growing a illness, however doesn’t describe an individual’s general danger of growing the illness. The check is just not meant to inform you something about your present state of well being, or for use to make medical selections, together with whether or not or not you need to take a drugs, how a lot of a drugs you need to take, or decide any remedy. For sure circumstances, we offer a single report that features data on each provider standing and genetic well being danger. Warnings & Limitations: The 23andMe PGS Genetic Well being Threat Report for BRCA1/BRCA2 (Chosen Variants) is indicated for reporting of the 185delAG and 5382insC variants within the BRCA1 gene and the 6174delT variant within the BRCA2 gene. The report describes if a lady is at elevated danger of growing breast and ovarian most cancers, and if a person is at elevated danger of growing breast most cancers or could also be at elevated danger of growing prostate most cancers. The three variants included on this report are commonest in folks of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and don’t symbolize the vast majority of BRCA1/BRCA2 variants within the common inhabitants. This report doesn’t embrace variants in different genes linked to hereditary cancers and the absence of variants included on this report doesn’t rule out the presence of different genetic variants which will affect most cancers danger. The PGS check is just not an alternative choice to visits to a healthcare skilled for really helpful screenings or acceptable follow-up. Outcomes ought to be confirmed in a scientific setting earlier than taking any medical motion. For vital data and limitations relating to every genetic well being danger report, go to 23andme.com/test-info/.

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