Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Masha Gessen: Declaring War on Her Own Body

Masha Gessen, who visits this coming Thursday, writes candidly about her genetic history and her painful decision to have a double mastectomy after discovering that she is predestined to develop a fatal form of breast cancer.

Jennifer Senior reviews her 2008 book Blood Matters in the New York Times.

"One of the wonders of the genome is how it enables us to time-travel, both backward and forward. Scribbled within it are clues to our ancestry, which can give us an emboldening sense of continuity, coherence, place — how marvelous to imagine ourselves the sons of Levi, the daughters of African queens! But scrawled within it, too, are clues about our future, which can be downright terrifying. Rather than expand our sense of possibilities, they foreshorten them. There are dread mutations slumbering in our cells. From our genes, we learn how we may die." More.