Let’s start out with some trivia.
Did you know that the Hilton Amsterdam is the home of this famous photo?
No, well me either. I’m glad someone told me on Sunday. Kind of explains the Beatles themed party Saturday evening.
As for the Beatlemania party, I’ll save those photos for last😊
Please note that I’m still traveling and these photos are rather rough – so please keep that in mind.
MyHeritage LIVE Day 2
There was lots to see and do on Sunday – a DNA track, a genealogy track and also a hands-on lab series.
I floated between several sessions hoping to improve my search skills in the morning. It was difficult to choose, but fortunately, you don’t have to because they are all going to be available shortly at Legacy Tree Webinars.
I popped into The WorldWide DNA Web by Alon Carmel to learn a bit more about the upcoming ethnicity release.
I also attended Evaluating Your Smart Matches and Record Matches by James Tanner. My phone decided to misbehave and I don’t have any photos of this session. I had never heard James speak before and I encourage you to watch his session when the webinars become available.
I understand from others that his session in the afternoon, Developing Your Own Research Plan at MyHeritage, was excellent, especially for someone just starting out.
The session I found the most interesting from Day 2 of the #MyHeritageLIVE conference was the one dealing with the MyHeritage health test.
First, I found the scientific aspect fascinating as presented by Dr. Yaniv Erlich (PhD, not MD).
Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage CEO, joined us in the audience.
As you probably know, MyHeritage added the Health test earlier this year. I ordered mine and have been waiting to finish writing the article until after this conference.
MyHeritage reports on 27 conditions, including 14 diseases and 13 carrier reports.
I feel it’s particularly important that in the US, the test is physician ordered. This means that when you order the test, you answer a few questions that are automatically submitted to PWNHealth where they are reviewed by a physician to determine if a genetic health test is appropriate for you.
The test is then run in a CLIA certified lab – meaning the test is a medical grade test.
Then, the results are reviewed by a physician. If your results are in the high risk range, a second test is performed using a different type of technology to verify the results before they are returned to you – at no charge to you.
If the results are in the high risk range and would be concerning, you are provided with a genetic counseling session – also at no charge.
I feel this is particularly important.
Yaniv provided additional detail which I will include in my upcoming article.
Yaniv said something that I think is particularly relevant – seeing the results in black and white sometimes encourages people to make decisions and act in a different way than simply hearing your physician say to live a healthy lifestyle during your yearly physical.
My Own Experience
I had not told anyone at MyHeritage about my own experience with genetic health testing before the MyHeritage LIVE conference.
The day before the MyHeritage Health Panel discussion, I decided that I was going to tell my own story during the session if the opportunity arose and it was appropriate. I think it’s important, not just to me, but perhaps to you too.
The health panel included Geoff Rasmussen as moderator, at left, Diahan Southard, me and Yaniv Erlich, left to right.
I’m not intimidated by much, but talking about your own health publicly can be daunting. People are very sensitive and often embarrassed by health topics, especially ones like type two diabetes and weight because they are sometimes viewed as character defects, not health issues. In any case, I was a bit nervous.
However, I decided when I launched my blog 7 years ago that I was going to be transparent. I really think stories like mine can help others.
I have two points to make.
- Genetics isn’t destiny.
With very few exceptions, genetics isn’t destiny. You may have a genetic predisposition for a disease, but you may also be able to mitigate that disease with lifestyle and environmental changes. You may want to monitor that aspect of your health more closely. You have choices.
Forewarned is forearmed.
- Knowledge is power.
My sister had breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy in 1988.
Several years ago, I took a medical genetics health test.
We thought my sister was cancer free and had dodged that bullet. She and her husband were traveling when I received a phone call from my brother-in-law that my sister had experienced a heart attack. She died the next day.
Some years ago, I took a direct-to-consumer medical test focused on health results to see if I too carried a predisposition for breast cancer. I was relieved to discover that I do not, BUT – I discovered something I didn’t expect. I carried an elevated risk for heart disease.
Not in the red (danger) range, but knowing that my sister died of a heart attack in addition to this elevated risk was enough to get my attention in a way that nothing else ever had before.
I knew I had to do something.
I was heavy.
So was my sister.
I was not able to lose weight and keep it off.
Neither was my sister.
I knew I had to do something about this, and I decided after much deliberation to have bariatric surgery to facilitate weight loss. If you’re thinking for one minute that I took the “easy way out,” you’re sorely mistaken. Regardless of the methodology, I was and remain successful and that’s all that matters.
Now, a decade later, I not only lost a significant amount of weight, I’ve kept it off. My BMI is normal, I’m not diabetic and I’m healthier and feel better than I did before the surgery.
My quality of life is greatly improved and the chances of me developing obesity-related diseased are greatly reduced – including heart disease and diabetes, although I don’t have an elevated genetic risk for that.
However, obesity itself is a risk factor for diabetes, without genetics. No risk factors also doesn’t mean you won’t get the disease. It only means there’s not a currently known genetic element.
Yaniv showed a chart that indicated that people at high risk of diabetes are more sensitive to high BMI. Furthermore, if you have high risk of either heart disease or diabetes, you need to and can minimize the risk of the other factor.
These predispositions are not a death sentence, BUT DOING NOTHING IS! Sooner than later.
I will be writing an article shorting detailing my results and including several slides from Yaniv’s session. I want to be sure I fully understand them before publication, so I’ll need to follow up with Yaniv before completing that article.
I know I had made the right decision for me, but seeing the actual data confirmed it.
Furthermore, it’s not just about me. I have a husband, two children and grandchildren and I want to spend as much quality time with them as possible in this lifetime.
There are two critical words there.
Quality and time.
I know that not everyone wants to know about their health predispositions. I understand and it’s a personal decision for everyone.
I hope you’ll consider health testing.
There are more perspectives than mine, and more topics were covered during the panel discussion – such as differing opinions as to whether children should be tested. I hope you’ll view the session when they become available through Legacy Tree Webinars. All panelists had important points worth considering and things I hadn’t thought about.
Now for Beatlemania.
I’m actually not a big party person, but MyHeritage provided props for party-goers and everyone had fun. Some folks danced. Some hung out and others sat in the lobby chatting.
Here are Jonny Perl (DNAPainter) and Evert-Jan Blom (Genetic Affairs) talking.
And later at the party in their Beatlemania garb.
Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Tree Webinars and Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage.
Marianne Melcherts of MyHeritage (who you can find in the MyHeritage Facebook Users’ Group) and me. Yes, we’re both Dutch or have Dutch heritage.
Here – this is better!
Cheese and tulips. Ran Snir of MyHeritage (right) and someone whose name escapes me at the moment. (Sorry.)
Everyone was having so much fun! These lovely folks came from Texas.
The folk dancers were amazing. Look at that lace cap.
Even the dancers had fun.
Aaron Godfrey provided the closing session.
This event was an amazing success. I can’t wait to see how many people tuned in by livestream.
Aaron had one more story for us.
A 99 year old lady DNA tested to find her biological father and found a close match. There was a family rumor…
The family wanted to meet her.
On her birthday.
At a surprise party!
I swear, MyHeritage needs to start including boxes of tissues in the goody bags! Don’t wait to DNA test. You never know who’s waiting for you!
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me to #MyHeritageLIVE 2019 in Amsterdam.
But wait – there’s one more announcement!
Yes, there is going to be a MyHeritage LIVE 2020.
The plan is for Israel, although a date won’t be announced until a venue can be finalized.
Lots of conference attendees were very excited and already making plans to attend.
In closing, I hope you’ll do the following:
- Watch the session webinars when they become available.
- Join me soon for my article about health results.
- Consider DNA health testing whether you upgrade an existing test or order one from scratch. (Transfers can’t be upgraded.)
Start making at least tentative plans for Israel!
Have fun and enjoy your genealogy. More and more records are becoming available every single day and may hold gems for you.
I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- MyHeritage DNA only
- MyHeritage DNA plus Health
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload
- 23andMe Ancestry
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
- Legacy Tree Genealogists for genealogy research