I am fascinated by the Human Genome Project, a wide-ranging, long-term study of DNA—and its implications on finding, treating, and avoiding diseases. Doctors say our cancer is as unique as our DNA, so I would really love to try to delve into the “why” and the “how” of my illness. I have a grandmother who died of stomach cancer—although I have long wondered if that was a euphemism for some “woman’s problem” like uterine cancer. My mother died of liver cancer that started in her pancreas. My dad had a form of leukemia—often called pre-leukemia, although he died of pneumonia.

In the future, doctors speculate they will be able to customize cancer treatments based on genetic information. And drugs can be developed for specific genes. So, theoretically, our genes could be used to treat illnesses, rather than just cause them.

Still, even though I have a genetic predisposition toward cancer, other lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are essential. Did the weight I gained in my 50s make me more susceptible?

As I said, this is a compelling medical mystery. It might be my next big project.

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