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

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Weaving together family history, genetic discovery, and scenes from her life, Ami McKay tells the compelling, true-science story of her own family's unsettling legacy of hereditary cancer while exploring the challenges that come from carrying the mutation that not only killed many people you loved, but might also kill you. The story of Ami McKay's connection to a geneti Weaving together family history, genetic discovery, and scenes from her life, Ami McKay tells the compelling, true-science story of her own family's unsettling legacy of hereditary cancer while exploring the challenges that come from carrying the mutation that not only killed many people you loved, but might also kill you. The story of Ami McKay's connection to a genetic disorder called Lynch syndrome begins over seventy years before she was born and long before scientists discovered DNA. In 1895 her great-great aunt, Pauline Gross, a seamstress in Ann Arbor, Michigan, confided to a pathology professor at the local university that she expected to die young, like so many others in her family. Rather than dismiss her fears, the pathologist chose to enlist Pauline in the careful tracking of those in her family tree who had died of cancer. Pauline's premonition proved true--she died at 46--but because of her efforts, her family (who the pathologist dubbed 'Family G') would become the longest and most detailed cancer genealogy ever studied in the world. A century after Pauline's confession, researchers would identify the genetic mutation responsible for the family's woes. Now known as Lynch syndrome, the genetic condition predisposes its carriers to several types of cancer, including colorectal, endometrial, ovarian and pancreatic. In 2001, as a young mother with two sons and a keen interest in survival, Ami McKay was among the first to be tested for Lynch syndrome. She had a feeling she'd test positive: her mother's side of the family was riddled with early deaths and her own mother was being treated for the disease. When the test proved her fears true, she began living in "an unsettling state between wellness and cancer," and she's been there ever since. Intimate, candid, and probing, her genetic memoir tells a fascinating story, teasing out the many ways to live with the hand you are dealt.


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Weaving together family history, genetic discovery, and scenes from her life, Ami McKay tells the compelling, true-science story of her own family's unsettling legacy of hereditary cancer while exploring the challenges that come from carrying the mutation that not only killed many people you loved, but might also kill you. The story of Ami McKay's connection to a geneti Weaving together family history, genetic discovery, and scenes from her life, Ami McKay tells the compelling, true-science story of her own family's unsettling legacy of hereditary cancer while exploring the challenges that come from carrying the mutation that not only killed many people you loved, but might also kill you. The story of Ami McKay's connection to a genetic disorder called Lynch syndrome begins over seventy years before she was born and long before scientists discovered DNA. In 1895 her great-great aunt, Pauline Gross, a seamstress in Ann Arbor, Michigan, confided to a pathology professor at the local university that she expected to die young, like so many others in her family. Rather than dismiss her fears, the pathologist chose to enlist Pauline in the careful tracking of those in her family tree who had died of cancer. Pauline's premonition proved true--she died at 46--but because of her efforts, her family (who the pathologist dubbed 'Family G') would become the longest and most detailed cancer genealogy ever studied in the world. A century after Pauline's confession, researchers would identify the genetic mutation responsible for the family's woes. Now known as Lynch syndrome, the genetic condition predisposes its carriers to several types of cancer, including colorectal, endometrial, ovarian and pancreatic. In 2001, as a young mother with two sons and a keen interest in survival, Ami McKay was among the first to be tested for Lynch syndrome. She had a feeling she'd test positive: her mother's side of the family was riddled with early deaths and her own mother was being treated for the disease. When the test proved her fears true, she began living in "an unsettling state between wellness and cancer," and she's been there ever since. Intimate, candid, and probing, her genetic memoir tells a fascinating story, teasing out the many ways to live with the hand you are dealt.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    4-1/2 stars This is a wonderful book, an excellent combination of personal biography, family biography & history, medical science history, with some general history and current events included. It contains some basic information about the ramifications of having inherited Lynch Syndrome. It’s a lovely family/families story and coming of age story. I love how the narrative goes back and forth in time, following various people and events. The account is easy to follow because each mini-section has 4-1/2 stars This is a wonderful book, an excellent combination of personal biography, family biography & history, medical science history, with some general history and current events included. It contains some basic information about the ramifications of having inherited Lynch Syndrome. It’s a lovely family/families story and coming of age story. I love how the narrative goes back and forth in time, following various people and events. The account is easy to follow because each mini-section has its year included in the title. I recommend it to all readers interested in any of the above types of books. I was extremely interested in this book because I do have Lynch Syndrome. I particularly recommend it to others with Lynch Syndrome or those having any genetic mutation that makes them prone to develop cancers, or perhaps other ailments as well. This is not a depressing book. At times it is sad but despite the difficult subject matter it is life affirming and fascinating in every way, at least it was to me. I have great admiration for the author and particularly for some of her ancestors. Her family members greatly contributed to the discoveries made about genetic reasons for some cancers in some families. I’m in awe and jealous that family members knew Dr. Lynch and important researchers. I hadn’t known the relationship between the eugenics movement in the United States and conditions such as this, though I did know about its ties with Nazis in Germany. I could have actually done without mentions of the current U.S. President and some other celebrity figures and current events, though I do understand why they were included, especially the 9/11 terrorism acts. This was a holiday gift from a good friend who knew how much I wanted to read it. It’s a Canadian book and there is no United States edition. I requested it but my library couldn’t order it for that reason. They have to order from certain vendors. It can be purchased on Amazon or from Canadian bookstores, and perhaps also from bookstores in other countries as a special order. I’m grateful that I got the chance to read it not too, too long after it was published. I haven’t seen another book like it and I highly recommend it particularly for those with Lynch and those who know anyone from a “cancer family” also. Most with Lynch Syndrome gene mutations (and other gene mutations that also increase risk for cancer and other diseases) do not know that they are affected. Lynch Syndrome is not exceedingly rare. I’ve heard the stats 1 in 300 and 1 in 279 probably have one of the 5 known gene mutations mean Lynch Syndrome. If you’ve had 3 biological relatives who’ve be diagnosed with cancer, particularly before age 50, and particularly with the most common “Lynch cancers” of colon, rectal, uterine, ovarian, stomach, small intestine, bile duct, pancreas, kidney, and also maybe breast, skin, brain, but the mutations can lead to all forms of cancer, then I’d suggest getting the simple test. Those who have it can be proactive and get screenings and prophylactic treatments to avoid it or catch it early. No need for others to read the text in spoiler tags. Tons of repetition and few lucid or logical sentences, in a hurry to get something down while it is still 2019: Some personal jumbled musings not really part of the review – I’ll try to come back someday to edit and perhaps to also write a more worthy review: (view spoiler)[ I might come back and clean up and organize these notes. I might at least get rid of the repetition and try to form some coherent sentences. I finished the book on 2019/12/31 and wanted some review posted while it was still 2019. Everyone on my mother’s mother’s mother’s side of the family has died of cancer. Even before I knew what Lynch was, it was obvious there was something hereditary going on. Before I reached my teens I expected to get cancer when young and expected to die from cancer. Never did I expect to reach my current age still cancer free, a previvor. Of the relatives I know about on that one fourth of my family, I’ve outlived all the women and all but two of the men (dead at 83 and 72, both diagnosed in their late 60s) by more than a decade and oftentimes by half a lifetime. I would have gotten tested had there been a test when I was twelve, and definitely at the “permitted” age of 18. I’d thought I was tested early on but I guess not. The author was tested four and a half years before I was. When I was tested they could test for only three of the now five known mutations, and the genetic counselors couldn’t tell me exactly what my mutation meant. My gastroenterologist at the time told me it didn’t matter the test results; she knew I would get colon cancer. She just couldn’t tell me when. I had figured the same. I have a different mutation than the author does. Different mutations are associated with different risks regarding types of cancer and ages at diagnosis, to some extent. By the time I got tested I was the only survivor I knew of from that family line so I was the only person tested. I know that my mother, my grandmother, my and my great-grandmother had it, also my mother’s brother, and all (or maybe all but one) of her uncles. It’s supposed to be a 50/50 chance to pass it on parent to child (assuming only one parent has it and not both; that’s another story) but in my family it seems to be 100%. I have to only guess that my ancestors had the same mutation I do. There is no way to know for sure. I’d love a full battery of tests and some genuine genetic counseling, but it wouldn’t really change anything except to satisfy my curiosity. I wish I could see a Lynch specialist and not have to keep educating doctors or having them having to educate themselves in only a basic way when they’re dealing with me. I have not been able to get all the recommended screenings, though I certainly get more than most people do. It took three decades of every doctor trying to convince me (I’d had a really, really bad experience with surgery at age 13 and had avoided all surgery after that) before I finally submitted to a hysterectomy. I was lucky I got that done not too late. Extremely lucky given my family history! I knew that this book would be a tough read for me. Except for online people, and I don’t really know any, but just read posts, I don’t know anyone else with Lynch Syndrome. I was so eager to read this book. I’d love to chat with the author. Our experiences are so different though, except that we’re both thankfully still cancer free. I’m 15 years her senior so my situation seems amazing to me. The book did not depress me or scare me in the ways I most feared. I simply enjoyed the story. What was hard for me is that unlike the author I do not have many relatives and very few family stories. I couldn’t write a book like this. I’d have to rely on records and not on other people. As I was reading I found and pulled out my genetic test results. They tested for only 3 mutations MLH1, MSH2 (the author’s), and MSH6 the only one I am tested positive for, but now they know of others too: EPCAM and PMS2. I got myself tested on April 11, 2006 and the report came back on June 20, 2006. I’ve never seen a Lynch specialist. I’ve known since my mother died when I was 11 though, already knowing about previous cancer deaths, that I was likely to die young from cancer, even before I knew anything specific about genetic mutations or knew of Lynch Syndrome or knew about genetic testing. I thought I’d done the genetic testing much earlier, partly because other Lynch people seem to have been tested for more variants and because it seems like much longer ago, but that’s because I’d already assumed I had the “cancer gene” that had decimated one quarter of my family. I’d love to be able to get the full battery of tests and would love to go to Dana Farber’s Lynch Center or another major cancer center, or to at least see a doctor who has extensive knowledge about Lynch rather than be the one who has to education my doctors. Lynch Syndrome isn’t incredibly rare. I’ve heard stats of 1 in 279 and of 1 in 300. Anyone who’s had a few relatives die before age 50 of cancer, particularly one of the “Lynch cancers” should be tested. If positive insurances will pay for possibly lifesaving screenings, much more than they approve for the average person. I feel sad because I could never have written a family memoir like this. My mother died when I was 11. The only other relatives from that one fourth said left by the time I was born were my mother’s brother (never had a good relationship with him) and some cousins of my mother’s generation and young from Wales, England, Israel. I met one a few times and a few from Wales when I was 10 or 11 but never knew anyone other than my mother and uncle. My mother told a few family stories and my father could give a bit of information after my mother died, but I really know so little. I have very few “family stories” and virtually none from my maternal grandmother’s (and great grandmother’s) side of the family. (hide spoiler)] I’m happy to lend this book to any local person who would like to read this book. If the library (SFPL – San Francisco Public Library) will make it available for circulation (vs. what they usually do which is putting it in their library sale or making it for library use only) I plan to eventually donate the book to them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    As a child, I listened to the women in my family tell stories of the past – grandmothers, aunts and cousins sitting around the kitchen table with my mother, sometimes laughing until they cried, sometimes sobbing through words of grief. They spoke of relatives who lived before I was born – people who came from nothing, who faced great hardship, who died too young. The women in those tales stared down death, looked after the sick, and conversed with fate. They spread the truth through story, ev As a child, I listened to the women in my family tell stories of the past – grandmothers, aunts and cousins sitting around the kitchen table with my mother, sometimes laughing until they cried, sometimes sobbing through words of grief. They spoke of relatives who lived before I was born – people who came from nothing, who faced great hardship, who died too young. The women in those tales stared down death, looked after the sick, and conversed with fate. They spread the truth through story, even when others didn't wish to hear it. This is how I learned that stories have power – to make sense of the world, to give voice to dreams, to nurture hope and banish fear. What I didn't know then was that those stories would provide me with what I need to navigate life with Lynch syndrome. Sometimes the best advice on how to live comes from listening to the dead. Throughout all of her growing-up years, novelist Ami McKay knew that members of her family had a history of dying young from a number of gut-centered cancers. She eventually learned that her immediate family line had been studied for over a century (going back to her great-great-aunt Pauline Gross, after whom the medical label “Family G” was named) in an effort to prove the theory that certain cancers are hereditary (an apparently controversial theory before genetic testing could prove it out). Having spent her adult life investigating her genealogy and its unique medical history, and assembling all that she has learned into this book, McKay's Daughter of Family G serves as a thoughtful memoir for herself and her family line, provides a fascinating look at the history of cancer research (and its wider implications), and explores the very personal ramifications of dealing with this particular diagnosis. The storytelling moves between the distant past (I especially enjoyed McKay's decision to write Pauline's parts as creative nonfiction; narrating her story like a novel instead of simply duplicating what is known of her from the records truly brought Pauline to life as a real, feeling person), stories from McKay's personal life history, and stories from the present as McKay faces Lynch syndrome as an adult. This is a book with plenty of intriguing science, but more so, this is a book with a beating heart: I was constantly touched by the humanity with which McKay imbues her family members – whether quoting from her parents' love letters or describing how one prepares for the results of genetic testing – and I was surprised to find myself touched to the point of tears more than once. This is everything a medical memoir should be and I appreciate McKay's courage in sharing her story with the world. I try to imagine what it must have been like to live in a eugenics-infatuated America as a member of an “unfit family”. Did the family members who left Michigan think they could escape the past by starting over someplace new? That was the path their ancestors had chosen by leaving Germany. Was that what I'd done when I'd moved to Nova Scotia? My research to this point had led me to believe that after Weller's report in 1936, certain branches of the family made a conscious effort to “forget their blood” and abandon their roots – even those who'd chosen to stay close to home. When Pauline Gross shared her fears of dying young of cancer to a pathology professor, she couldn't have known that her story was falling on the most receptive of ears: Dr Aldred Scott Warthin was looking for a topic with which to make his mark on the medical field, and with the aid of Pauline and the meticulous family records that she was eventually able to assemble, Warthin would write papers and serve as the keynote speaker at conferences that would thereafter seal his reputation as “the father of cancer genetics”. Pauline also couldn't know that Dr Warthin would eventually, based partly on her own family's evidence, become a vocal eugenicist who would advocate for the sterilisation of those with “inferior” hereditary material. While it goes without saying that the eugenics movement was reprehensible, it remains a thorny question to knowingly bring children into the world when there's a 50-50 chance of a parent passing on the MSH2 mutation that causes Lynch syndrome (overall, McKay seems to conclude, like she has Pauline saying back in the 1800s, that any stretch of life is worthwhile to those living it). Genetic testing is now available to easily identify those with the mutation, and McKay was surprised to discover that even within her immediate family, not everyone wants to participate: While on the one hand, a positive test would give individuals the information they would need in order to direct their own health care as “previvors” (yearly colonoscopies, evidence to push back at a doctor who might dismiss symptoms as benign), some family members feared that a positive result could cause them to lose their health or life insurance. With the rising popularity of ancestry-based spit swab sites, it's probably not undue paranoia to wonder at just what is being done with all that genetic information. There's no room for “why me?” with Lynch syndrome. The mutation is only part, not all of who I am. Rather than let it rule me, I choose to fold the rituals of annual screenings and tests into the cycles and rhythms of my life. If I give the disease the space and attention it needs (no more, no less), just as my mother did, then I'll give myself space for everything else – hope, love, dreams, bliss. In the end – and in no small part, because of the way her loving mother had lived her own shortened life – Ami McKay is able to write a memoir about living with a death sentence (she, and everyone else with Lynch syndrome, will eventually suffer from colorectal, pancreatic, or reproductive organ cancer) that sings of life. McKay's story is fascinating, touching, and well told.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    American-born Canadian novelist Ami McKay has Lynch Syndrome, a genetic mutation in her DNA that predisposes her to developing several types of cancer at a much earlier than average age. Colon is by far the most common cancer Lynch Syndrome patients are diagnosed with; endometrial is the second most common. The defect is in the MSH2 gene, which normally performs a care-taking role by activating a protein essential to cleaning up cell mutations. Having the MSH2 marker means a person has an 85% ch American-born Canadian novelist Ami McKay has Lynch Syndrome, a genetic mutation in her DNA that predisposes her to developing several types of cancer at a much earlier than average age. Colon is by far the most common cancer Lynch Syndrome patients are diagnosed with; endometrial is the second most common. The defect is in the MSH2 gene, which normally performs a care-taking role by activating a protein essential to cleaning up cell mutations. Having the MSH2 marker means a person has an 85% chance of developing colon cancer within her lifetime. Nothing can be done to prevent it. McKay uses her considerable talents as a novelist to tell a compelling story about being part of “Family G”, whose high incidence of cancer made it a subject of great interest to pathologists, proponents of eugenics, cancer researchers, and geneticists for the better part of the last hundred years. McKay comes of a maternal line which is “the longest and most detailed cancer genealogy ever studied in the world,” arguably the family that has contributed the most to “understanding an important genetic disease.” The disease is more common than most people know. The author suggests that as many as one in two hundred people have the genetic defect that causes Lynch Syndrome. (I checked a couple of reputable medical websites and saw different figures cited: 1 in 300 and 1 in 400.) Many don’t know they have the defect, and McKay advocates for genetic testing if there is a family history of early colorectal or endometrial cancer. If you know you’ve got the defect, you can undergo regular cancer screening, increase the possibility of catching the cancer early, and improve your chances of survival. The events in McKay’s book are, as she says in her introductory note, “laid out in alternating chapters of history, memory and being.” There are chapters that focus on the time before she was born, chapters that tell of her own past, and still other chapters set during the year she was working on the book. The three strands to the narrative are skillfully braided into an effective whole. The sections that concern the author’s family history focus to a significant extent on her female forebears: her great-great aunt Pauline (who first brought the family’s history of cancer to medical attention), her great-grandmother, grandmother, and beloved mother. In these chapters, McKay also discusses the important researchers who studied the family over the years. In the second decade of the twentieth century, Aldred Warthin, a University of Michigan pathologist and eugenics advocate, was Pauline’s first medical contact. Over several years, he acquired tissue and tumour samples from her family (“Family G”), as well as a genealogical chart prepared by Pauline herself, which marked her relatives’ deaths from cancer. Warthin advised Pauline against marriage and children. He believed that it was her duty to America to ensure her inferior stock was discontinued. (McKay considers the ways in which the American eugenics movement came to influence Hitler.) The medical community was not receptive to Warthin’s ideas about cancer as an inherited disease. Later, beginning in the 1960s, Henry Lynch, an oncologist at Creighton University, was to have more success. After collecting considerable data, Lynch contacted researcher Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins, whose team came up with the genetic test that identified the defective gene. Complementing McKay’s historical consideration of Family G’s contribution to the understanding that cancer could be inherited are sections that highlight McKay’s personal history, as well as chapters focusing on the year in which she wrote her book—when her eldest son was deciding if he should undergo genetic testing. The burden that Lynch Syndrome imposes on patients comes across loud and clear. McKay has had to confront a multitude of medical decisions. Should she have a hysterectomy, given that so many women in her family were struck with aggressive endometrial cancer? Since an endoscope could miss cancer hiding in her unfortunately tortuous colon, should she undergo surgery to remove that final section of her intestine? These questions and others generate tension in McKay’s telling, supplying it with real narrative drive. I found McKay’s focused memoir an affecting, informative, and well written book. The members of her family, past and present, come alive on the page, and her love for and gratitude to her mother are particularly movingly communicated. The author includes many family photographs, which help to make her relatives even more real to the reader. I only wish a genealogical table had been provided. McKay is judicious in her presentation of medical information for the lay reader. Some may not like the shifting tripartite structure of the book, the regular moving backwards and forwards in time, but I thought it a clever and effective way overall to communicate information, reminding the reader that the past is always with us.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    What a captivating story - wasn't able to put it down. I thought, based on the subject matter that if would be super depressing but it was completely the opposite - hopeful. What a captivating story - wasn't able to put it down. I thought, based on the subject matter that if would be super depressing but it was completely the opposite - hopeful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "What exactly are "great" geans? The phrase gets breezily tossed off in everyday conversation as a compliment, as justification for success as a boast of superiority. "Bad" genes get blamed for our shortcomings physical, professional, academic. It all feels grossly ignorant and sinister. Science has given the human race the ability to decipher our DNA, but can be trusted to take proper care of it?" • A facinating memoir of hereditary cancer. Ami Mckay traces back her family tree by 70 years to her "What exactly are "great" geans? The phrase gets breezily tossed off in everyday conversation as a compliment, as justification for success as a boast of superiority. "Bad" genes get blamed for our shortcomings physical, professional, academic. It all feels grossly ignorant and sinister. Science has given the human race the ability to decipher our DNA, but can be trusted to take proper care of it?" • A facinating memoir of hereditary cancer. Ami Mckay traces back her family tree by 70 years to her great-great Aunt who predicted she would die young because of how many in her family had. She predicted right but before her death she participated in a genealogy study tracing the deaths from cancer in her family. It turned out to be the longest study of its kind in the world. It was called "Family G". It was discovered years later to be a genetic mutation called Lynch syndrome. This mutation predisposes carriers to different types of cancer. McKay was one of the first tested for it back in 2001, she feared a positive result and her fears were confirmed. She opens up about living between the lines of life and fate, the fear and anxiety of living with Lynch syndrome, she pays homage to her ancestors that contributed to the research of hereditary cancer, and reminds us about the fragility of life and the role our genetics play. Written with honesty and courage, both heartbreaking and profound. I had anticipated this being a bit of a daunting read since so much about the word Cancer is associated with fear and death but McKay has written a beautiful story about love, genealogy and hope. No easy task, she weaves genres seamlessly, her signature writing style shines through. ••• I dont read a lot of medical memoirs such as this but its definitely something I will be looking for more now. Any recommendations? • Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book opinions are my own. • For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    McKay’s decision to structure this memoir by interweaving stories from various time periods helps make the story compelling. That, coupled with her own honest voice, makes what could be a very specific memoir become very relatable. Though we may not have wrestled with this particular problem, who among us hasn’t confronted family stories and family legacies in some way? McKay’s ability to describe the deep love her family shares is also a highlight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rhona

    Amazing book! One of my favorites of 2019.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    A wonderful book. I received a copy through a contest and delayed starting to read it as the topic seemed so daunting. When I finally opened it and read the first page, I was immediately enthralled and knew I was in good hands. McKay is a brilliant storyteller and one of my favourite authors. I should have known that I'd be fine. She has woven together intergenerational stories with history, science, moral questions, complicated families and simple joys into a fascinating memoir which puts a hum A wonderful book. I received a copy through a contest and delayed starting to read it as the topic seemed so daunting. When I finally opened it and read the first page, I was immediately enthralled and knew I was in good hands. McKay is a brilliant storyteller and one of my favourite authors. I should have known that I'd be fine. She has woven together intergenerational stories with history, science, moral questions, complicated families and simple joys into a fascinating memoir which puts a human face on to scientific enquiry. Its content is so relevant in today's world. Everyone should read it. And I cannot imagine a better or braver author to lead us through this journey.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jane Mulkewich

    Beautifully written - and such an important story. I have read some of Ami McKay's fiction, and will read more, particularly now that I feel that I have really gotten to know the author through reading this fascinating memoir of her whole family. Somewhat reminiscent of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" which I read last year, because it involves scientific (cancer) research on human tissue, but in this case the tissue was willingly provided by family members with full consent. This is the Beautifully written - and such an important story. I have read some of Ami McKay's fiction, and will read more, particularly now that I feel that I have really gotten to know the author through reading this fascinating memoir of her whole family. Somewhat reminiscent of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" which I read last year, because it involves scientific (cancer) research on human tissue, but in this case the tissue was willingly provided by family members with full consent. This is the family that basically proved that at least some forms of cancer can be genetically inherited. As someone with an active interest in genealogy and DNA, I learned a lot from this book about DNA, and continue to marvel about how quickly the research has advanced in our lifetime. Also the parts of the story that talk about eugenics (and those that believe in it) is totally unnerving. I hadn't heard, for example, about the racist use of milk emojis on Twitter and that Trump supporters bring jugs of milk to rallies - because of the hateful belief that their ability to digest lactose proves their superiority. Wow. Anyways, Ami McKay is lovely, and so full of love and hope, and her book honours so many of her ancestors including her mother, grandmother, and her great-great-aunt Pauline who started it all, and she passes on their wisdom to her sons, and her message is all about living life with hope, joy and passion because you don't know how long you will have.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy Young

    I have read Ami’s other three books and enjoyed them. The eugenics parallel between the US government in the early 20th century and Hitler was eye opening for me. It also resonated with me as to what is going on in the US today where immigrant children are being separated from their parents. This is a fascinating memoir. Ami skillfully weaves the past and the present into her family’s story. Lynch syndrome is explained. I’m not sure I would want to know if I was a previvor because there is no ha I have read Ami’s other three books and enjoyed them. The eugenics parallel between the US government in the early 20th century and Hitler was eye opening for me. It also resonated with me as to what is going on in the US today where immigrant children are being separated from their parents. This is a fascinating memoir. Ami skillfully weaves the past and the present into her family’s story. Lynch syndrome is explained. I’m not sure I would want to know if I was a previvor because there is no handbook. But this book would certainly help to explain things because it is well written. Dr. Bert Vogelstein is quoted as saying: “Early detection is undervalued, underfunded and under researched in cancer investigations. If we can get society to appreciate the value and historical precedent for this kind of research, we can change what we’re doing now for the better and actually be victorious against these diseases.” p266 I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for writing this memoir, Ami 💕

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Kemp

    An insightful journey through her family history, Ami McKay’s “Daughter of Family G” is brilliant. Flipping between past and present, McKay describes her family’s struggle with cancer, and how instrumental her great-great-aunt was in the research into the disease’s genetic component. She also beautifully recounts her own life story, pulling the reader in as she describes her life’s journey. I loved reading this novel. More than just a historical account of Lynch syndrome research, McKay’s biogra An insightful journey through her family history, Ami McKay’s “Daughter of Family G” is brilliant. Flipping between past and present, McKay describes her family’s struggle with cancer, and how instrumental her great-great-aunt was in the research into the disease’s genetic component. She also beautifully recounts her own life story, pulling the reader in as she describes her life’s journey. I loved reading this novel. More than just a historical account of Lynch syndrome research, McKay’s biography is full of stories of strong and inspirational women, including that of the author herself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eryn Fisher

    This is one of the most intriguing, emotional, and wonderful memoirs I've ever read. The history of Family G is fascinating, but reading it from the perspective of someone within the family (and affected by the Lynch syndrome gene) gave it more gravity than any scientific article I've read about it. It's a story of great struggle, great scientific discoveries, and overwhelming optimism in the face of over 100 years of adversity. This is one of the most intriguing, emotional, and wonderful memoirs I've ever read. The history of Family G is fascinating, but reading it from the perspective of someone within the family (and affected by the Lynch syndrome gene) gave it more gravity than any scientific article I've read about it. It's a story of great struggle, great scientific discoveries, and overwhelming optimism in the face of over 100 years of adversity.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I'm a fan of Ami McKay, so I couldn't wait to read this memoir of hers. What a fascinating family history, in an unfortunate and tragic way. There is a gene passed down through her family, identified as Lynch Syndrome, that predisposes them to cancer. The fascinating aspect is that her family has known this and been known to the medical society since the 1800s, and doctors and researchers have studied her family in order to learn more. McKay's memoir flips between describing this very well-docum I'm a fan of Ami McKay, so I couldn't wait to read this memoir of hers. What a fascinating family history, in an unfortunate and tragic way. There is a gene passed down through her family, identified as Lynch Syndrome, that predisposes them to cancer. The fascinating aspect is that her family has known this and been known to the medical society since the 1800s, and doctors and researchers have studied her family in order to learn more. McKay's memoir flips between describing this very well-documented history (must have been numerous primary sources such as diaries and newspapers) and her own present-day and recent experiences, such as her parents' lives and deaths, and her son being tested for the gene. This was an audiobook for me, read by McKay herself, and I quite enjoyed both her writing style, her memories, and her family history. I also learned that McKay wasn't born in NS, but rather, Michigan.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maria Nolze

    ‘Maybe the key to everything - love, happiness, dreams, magic - is giving it room to grow.‘ ✨ Daughter of Family G is a mix of personal memoir, family biography, medical science history combined with other historical aspects. When Read4TheCure reached out to me, I hadn’t heard about this book. I looked it up and saw the incredible GoodReads rating of 4.35, but I was also intimidated by what it was about. Family G. is the subject of the longest & most detailed cancer genealogy study in the world. ‘Maybe the key to everything - love, happiness, dreams, magic - is giving it room to grow.‘ ✨ Daughter of Family G is a mix of personal memoir, family biography, medical science history combined with other historical aspects. When Read4TheCure reached out to me, I hadn’t heard about this book. I looked it up and saw the incredible GoodReads rating of 4.35, but I was also intimidated by what it was about. Family G. is the subject of the longest & most detailed cancer genealogy study in the world. The family is known for their disposition of the Lynch syndrome. I had the honor to host a giveaway & was so excited that @literallymc won it. Last but not least Natalie from @nedreadsbooks joined our little group & so the three of us embarked on a journey through time with author Ami McKay starting in 1895, spanning till late 2018. This book is emotional, personal, fascinating, absolutely magical... It is sad at times & can break your heart, but it is also life affirming! What I loved, was how the women of the family were portrayed; so strong, so hopeful & so beautiful! This book deserves all the stars; 5/5 ⭐️ Thank you so much to Read4TheCure & Recherchecancer for my copy of this beautiful book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    My first review of 2020 come from one of my favourite authors. I am a huge Ami McKay fan (@sideshowami here on insta), I love her writing and her focus on women in her stories, their tenacity, courage, strength, and overall Women are Magic vibe (both literally and figuratively, check out The Witches of New York). This memoir is no different. It follows both her life, in being raised in a family with a predisposition to some cancers and then discovering she is also a carrier of the gene, and also My first review of 2020 come from one of my favourite authors. I am a huge Ami McKay fan (@sideshowami here on insta), I love her writing and her focus on women in her stories, their tenacity, courage, strength, and overall Women are Magic vibe (both literally and figuratively, check out The Witches of New York). This memoir is no different. It follows both her life, in being raised in a family with a predisposition to some cancers and then discovering she is also a carrier of the gene, and also the history of her family who had a big hand in helping doctors with their medical and scientific advances in this field. I feel she’s done an honour to her mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great aunt in telling their stories. Considering the medical nature of the family history, it was also easy to read, enjoyable, and enlightening. For those looking for a memoir that is not the same as the rest you often find on a non-fiction or health shelf (it was on the health shelf at chapters) i would definitely recommend this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    As I wait to find out if I have Lynch Syndrome, I was both inspired and scared by McKay's story. The number of generations for which there was information is truly remarkable, as was the determination of her female ancestors. As I wait to find out if I have Lynch Syndrome, I was both inspired and scared by McKay's story. The number of generations for which there was information is truly remarkable, as was the determination of her female ancestors.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    This book came to me through watching a tv show. I knew Ami's work from reading The Birth House and also the Virgin Cure (my book to read over the Christmas break). As a genealogist, it fascinates me that this Family G has concrete proof that the cancer gene can be transferred from generation to generation. I have to wonder if the same gene or one similar could run through my own family as there are several cancers that seem to go generation by generation. In any event, Ami describes her family' This book came to me through watching a tv show. I knew Ami's work from reading The Birth House and also the Virgin Cure (my book to read over the Christmas break). As a genealogist, it fascinates me that this Family G has concrete proof that the cancer gene can be transferred from generation to generation. I have to wonder if the same gene or one similar could run through my own family as there are several cancers that seem to go generation by generation. In any event, Ami describes her family's struggle and strengths in dealing with this terrible disease. Not an easy topic in today's world, but a necessary one all the same. Bravo Ami for your honesty.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Lavery

    Daughter of Family G is a brilliant medical memoir about a woman who tests positive for a genetic mutation called Lynch Syndrome that makes her highly susceptible to a variety of cancers. Ami McKay, a radio documentarian and successful novelist, was raised in a family plagued by cancer and became one of the first people to be genetically tested for Lynch Syndrome. Her story is not only about illness, but also about learning to live - and be happy - with the cards you've been dealt in life. Ami's Daughter of Family G is a brilliant medical memoir about a woman who tests positive for a genetic mutation called Lynch Syndrome that makes her highly susceptible to a variety of cancers. Ami McKay, a radio documentarian and successful novelist, was raised in a family plagued by cancer and became one of the first people to be genetically tested for Lynch Syndrome. Her story is not only about illness, but also about learning to live - and be happy - with the cards you've been dealt in life. Ami's story alone would be compelling enough to carry the book, but McKay delves deep into her family history to learn more about how Lynch Syndrome was discovered. She interviews the scientists and doctors who created the first genetic tests for Lynch Syndrome, and pours over medical records, newspaper clippings and handwritten letters to trace the condition's spread through her family tree. Daughter of Family G is moving and profound and incredibly compelling. The scientific component is riveting and accessible even for people like me who don't know much about medicine, and McKay's personal story grounds even the most complex medical talk with real human experience. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who read and enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or to anyone who's been looking for a good memoir! You can read a full review of Daughter of Family G on my website: https://www.olivialavery.com.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    The Daughter of Family G is a well researched, honest, entertaining, educational and heart gripping memoir. I was anticipating the release of this book simply because it was written by Ami McKay. I had planned to sit back relax and enjoy and could not put it down. The story of Family G is amazing. You don't have to be from a family tragically plagued by cancer to appreciate and value the history and the contribution to science of Family G. What a gift to her family to have Ami McKay write their The Daughter of Family G is a well researched, honest, entertaining, educational and heart gripping memoir. I was anticipating the release of this book simply because it was written by Ami McKay. I had planned to sit back relax and enjoy and could not put it down. The story of Family G is amazing. You don't have to be from a family tragically plagued by cancer to appreciate and value the history and the contribution to science of Family G. What a gift to her family to have Ami McKay write their story. I found myself wishing that I had a memoir of my family written like this one that takes us right to family kitchen tables a century ago. Brilliant!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    What a wonderful read. It may be my most favourite book by this author!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Pcenicni

    I received an ARC copy from Goodreads. This was read in one day. I could not put it down. Ami has an amazing gift of weaving the story together. I feel honoured to have had the chance to read this early. Must read. Thank you!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peggy Walt

    A wonderful and moving story, well told by Ami McKay.

  23. 5 out of 5

    literallymc

    A long list of strong Family G women helped pave the way to what scientists would later discover as the Lynch syndrome. A rare genetic condition that causes certain cancers to occur at a young age, frequently and within a same family. A discovery and breakthrough of genetic connection to cancer. Intimated at first by the content, I was afraid I might find it to clinical or hard to read. Yet, told with such heart and wisdom, Ami takes you on page turning journey of her family history. A tale of de A long list of strong Family G women helped pave the way to what scientists would later discover as the Lynch syndrome. A rare genetic condition that causes certain cancers to occur at a young age, frequently and within a same family. A discovery and breakthrough of genetic connection to cancer. Intimated at first by the content, I was afraid I might find it to clinical or hard to read. Yet, told with such heart and wisdom, Ami takes you on page turning journey of her family history. A tale of despair, grief, kindness, determination and love. All the flowers of all our tomorrows are in the seeds we plant today - Tilly A hard look at the genes we inherit, how to learn to live when you carry the mutation that not only killed many people you loved, but might also kill you and your children. In this memoir, author Ami McKay shared her own experiences with care and transparency. A book for readers interested in an educational & inspiring read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    An enthralling and heart-wrenching look at what it means to live in family with an inherited cancer syndrome, with the history of the science and attitudes toward inherited diseases and the work that went into discovering. A perfect blend of personal and factual, that hit so close to home it hurt after experiencing losing family members to cancer. A must-read for anyone interested in family history and the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Amy McKay has done a grear job with this memoir! She skillfully weaves together scraps of family lore, documented facts, historical background and influences with her personal story. The narrative is replete with fully formed characters armed with determination and positivity in the face of one of many people's biggest fear: cancer. Amy McKay has done a grear job with this memoir! She skillfully weaves together scraps of family lore, documented facts, historical background and influences with her personal story. The narrative is replete with fully formed characters armed with determination and positivity in the face of one of many people's biggest fear: cancer.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Lynch syndrome is also what runs in the family in This Really Isn’t About You. I will be interested to compare and contrast. Lynch syndrome is also what runs in the family in This Really Isn’t About You. I will be interested to compare and contrast.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Devon Yoell

    Thank you for writing this book. It hit so close to home in so many ways, your story is beautifully written.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    'There's no room for "why me?" with Lynch syndrome. The mutation is only part, not all of who I am...If I give the disease the space and attention it needs (no more, no less), just as my mother did, then I'll give myself space for everything else - hope, love, dreams, bliss.' 'There's no room for "why me?" with Lynch syndrome. The mutation is only part, not all of who I am...If I give the disease the space and attention it needs (no more, no less), just as my mother did, then I'll give myself space for everything else - hope, love, dreams, bliss.'

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Dupuis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’m getting really bad at keeping up with my reviews. Trying to write this one before I’ve left it go too long, like the last. Ami McKay is one of my favourite authors and this book did not disappoint. Even though it’s non-fiction, her writing style and voice still come through (side note: for a person who typically doesn’t like non-fiction, I’ve read a lot lately that I’ve enjoyed). The story is fascinating, and I think the generation I enjoyed the most was of her early childhood, particularly w I’m getting really bad at keeping up with my reviews. Trying to write this one before I’ve left it go too long, like the last. Ami McKay is one of my favourite authors and this book did not disappoint. Even though it’s non-fiction, her writing style and voice still come through (side note: for a person who typically doesn’t like non-fiction, I’ve read a lot lately that I’ve enjoyed). The story is fascinating, and I think the generation I enjoyed the most was of her early childhood, particularly when Alice was involved, as well as Ami’s university years. Sometimes I found her narrative with her parents/husband/kids, knowing that it’s her real life, dramatized - I can’t quite describe it, but the way she relates to her family is very different to how I relate to mine. Also, for some reason I found the present day narrative lacking and I’m not sure why. I think I was looking for more to be related on how she lives life day to day with Lynch syndrome, as well as how her son dealt with his diagnosis. She did this, and I realize this exercise would be very personal, but for some reason it was lacking for me. This is a great book, but I think it might be very hard to read if you had a family that struggled with cancer diagnoses.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Samantha MacMillan

    This was an excellent read. I love Ami McKay's writing so knew I had to read this when it came out. Well, I finished it in a matter of hours, and will be grabbing a couple as Christmas gifts. A wonderful insight into the complexity of chronic illness and genetic testing. Thanks Ami for the vulnerability as well as the laughs (looking at you, Nova Scotian inhaled affirmative!) This was an excellent read. I love Ami McKay's writing so knew I had to read this when it came out. Well, I finished it in a matter of hours, and will be grabbing a couple as Christmas gifts. A wonderful insight into the complexity of chronic illness and genetic testing. Thanks Ami for the vulnerability as well as the laughs (looking at you, Nova Scotian inhaled affirmative!)

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