Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate

Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate
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Author and broadcaster, Ami McKay is a previvor—a person with a predisposition to cancer but who hasn't had the disease. McKay was born into a family whose medical history was slowly revealed to her as she grew up. Her list of begets trace back to 1895 and Ann Arbor, Mich. In that year, McKay’s great-great-aunt Pauline, a seamstress by profession, confided to the pathologist she was working for, that she thought she would die young. So many of her family became ‘afflicted’ with unknown and life-robbing illnesses, well before their life expectancies. And so began the study of a family who would become known as “Family G.” 

As the offspring of ‘Family G’ spread across the midwest and beyond, they received the invitation to participate in testing that would lead a team of scientists to break the code and enable testing for the mutation. By the mid-20th century, researchers would be honing in on the genetic mutations common to members of “Family G.” The particular mutation would become known as Lynch Syndrome, confirming a genetic condition that will predispose carriers down the generations to certain types of cancer: colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, and pancreatic among others.

Testing for the mutation became available toward the end of the 20th century, and in 2001 McKay made the decision to be tested herself. Daughter of Family G is based on a documentary that McKay wrote and broadcasted for CBC in 2001, shortly after testing positive for the mutation. The memoir weaves back and forth between the carefully studied generations. As much as the premature suffering and deaths of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are part of her story, McKay is able to write with a resilience about all that has kept her living fully. Now in her 50s and calling small-town Nova Scotia home, McKay invites the reader into her family story: a story of deep sadness, love, joy, and hope. (Penguin Random House Canada)

About the Author

Jenny deGroot is a freelance media review and news writer for The Banner. She lives on Swallowfield Farm near Fort Langley B.C. with her husband, Dennis. Before retirement she worked as a teacher librarian and assistant principal. 

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