Family History Question


Roll With It
I have been filling out lots of paperwork for doctors lately. It has come to my attention that I have very little info on husband's side of the family. I am not very close to them and HE won't ask about cancer, etc...

We haven't talked to/seen/interacted with his mom in several years, and even then it was on a very limited basis. I am wondering if I call her what will happen? I feel it is important to know if there is a history of breast cancer, colon cance, etc... on that side of the family. All the kids need this info.

I don't think husband's dad would have any of that info. Should I find a private moment during the day to try to get in touch with husband's mom? What do I say to her?




New Member
I would write her a letter, asking the specific questions. If you get a reply, fine, if not, just let it go.
As time goes on, there are more and more genetic markers being found for diseases, and I don't think it's too far in the future that we won't really need medical histories - a genetic profile will be able to tell us most of this.
Also, even having histories can be mis-information. My dad's parents died so young (both in their 40's) that things like colon cancer never had a chance to show up. My dad got it anyway........


Active Member
I have a similar situation, needing family medical history for myself and for difficult child, and both my fathers side and difficult child's fathers side have complicated dynamics between us/them.
I guess my personal opinion is that many people are unaware of their family medical history and really in the end all it does to help doctors/patients is lend a "higher possibility" of having a certain disease/disorder etc. It would be great for me, considering the neuro issues I am having, to have specifics of anything neuro in the history on my fathers side. But I also think that you have to weigh the pros/cons of contact with people who are not involved in your life.
In your situation, I would ask myself "what is the reason for the non-communication between husband and his mother". Obviously there is a reason they are not in touch. Would you be opening up a really large wound? Would it be difficult for husband to know contact is because of medical reasons only? Would it be uncomfortable for either of them?
I know for me there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that would convince me to reach out to my father's side of the family for medical information. And that is during a time when alot of light may be shed on my neuro issues if there was some sort of neuro issues with any of my aunts/uncles etc. It might help docs narrow down possibilities with me. But for me it would open up something that the door was slammed shut on years ago, and I couldn't handle reopening.
If it is just a matter of losing touch, with no hard feelings or awkwardness with husband and his mother, then I would perhaps do the letter route, but with husband's input that he is comfortable with it. I just wonder how a parent/son drift to non-communication for years if there isnt' something below the surface that is painful for one or both of them.
Either way, good luck!



Well-Known Member
I found that with my family, questions about health and addictions and behaviors were always answered with lies and deception. People weren't sick, they were lazy. People weren't addicted, they were crazy. People weren't gay, they were too irresponsible to get a husband/wife. People didn't have Alzheimer's, they were looking for attention. Children weren't disabled, they had bad parents. When diagnosis's were finally given, it was in whispers and only long after the information would have helped someone, and with the qualification that "it wasn't that bad" - unless someone died. Then they were the quietly suffering martyr. They suffered quietly because they couldn't share their concerns because the family judged them as failures for being sick. You might learn the true nature of their illness at their funeral. And I'm not talking about generations ago, either, I'm talking about my generation.

I think that if I were you, I would not do this behind husband's back. It's bound to get back to him and it seems like a betrayal to me if he isn't in contact with them. I would tell him what you need to know, and ask him who he thinks will give you accurate information, if anyone. If he is strongly opposed, I would let it be. There will always be time for this in the future.

As for genetic markers, I agree that they will be forthcoming. My gut feeling is that they will be used mostly to deny "preexisting conditions" from insurance coverage, or raise premiums based upon the severity of the disease associated with the marker.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
If you can get the info, go for it. Otherwise, I'd probably let it go. Like skeeter said, there are so many things now that turn up the easiest of tests and even most routine test turn up just enough to give cause for further investigation.

Just a few short years ago, I asked my sister in law if she had any medical history on H's family and what she sent me was astounding! I learned so many things I never would have known. Like both his paternal and maternal grandfathers had and survived prostate cancers. His mother had cancers in her uterus and it was removed years ago. His father had skin cancer removed. I mean, a lot of things! When I tried to discuss it with H, he was like a clam - he wouldn't even acknowledge any of it. He actually even said he thought his sister was making up the prostate cancer! lol - I mean, talk about denial.

Should you choose to contact your mother in law, best of luck.