We’re posting a story about one of the participants in 23andMe’s MPN Research Initiative to bring attention to these rare diseases. September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and today is MPN Awareness Day. Customers of 23andMe can help in these efforts — as well as our other research efforts with Parkinson’s and Sarcoma — simply by consenting to research.
In Esteban’s case, he said he wouldn’t have known he had cancer if it hadn’t been for the fact that he regularly donates blood. At one point, he was contacted by the blood bank informing him that he should talk to his doctor because of what they noticed in screening his blood. It’s profound, said Esteban that something he did to help potentially save someone else’s life, may have saved his own.Since his diagnosis, Esteban and his doctors have been able to keep his cancer in check with new medication. He’s healthy and engaged. Esteban is the director of a mariachi band for which he plays violin. He’s also appeared in several musical productions, including most recently a community production of Fiddler on the Roof, which won several awards.And he continues to be positive. He’s been using 23andMe to delve into his own ancestry. Although his parents had always said he was 100 percent Mexican, his surname is Basque and Esteban has always wondered about his ancestry. Looking at his 23andMe results, he learned of his mixed ancestry that includes Native ancestry from South America and paternal ancestry that traces to the Berbers.“My mother’s mother used to say, ‘The world’s big, we all fit,’” he said.His decision to join the research initiative was about more than simply healing himself. In explaining his motivation, Esteban mentions something his parish priest says about little drops of water making up the ocean.“Funny, but spit is much like a drop of water, together we are stronger than any one of us alone,” he said.