A National Book Award winner’s personal journey through the ethical dilemmas and unsettling choices raised by the new frontier of DNA testing.
Several years after Masha Gessen’s mother died of breast cancer, she discovered she too had the BRCA1 gene mutation, which predisposes women to high rates of ovarian and breast cancer. Her doctors gave her narrow options: surgical removal of her breasts and ovaries or living with the likelihood of one day developing cancer. As Gessen wrestled with her own health decisions, she sought more information about the implications of genetic testing from a variety of sources—ranging from others faced with her same dilemma to medical researchers, historians, and religious thinkers. With concerns both practical and philosophical, personal and societal, her inquiry led her across the globe, with stops in Israel, Russia, Austria, and the United States.
Weaving her own story into her journalistic research, Gessen offers insight into how knowledge that was once unimaginable now shapes our lives. Blood Matters explores not only the decisions we must make in our physical and emotional health, but also the ethical choices we face when choosing spouses or having children.
“Valuable reading to almost anyone facing a huge health decision, not only for the literary commiseration it offers, but also for the inspired example of medical sleuthing on one’s own behalf that it provides. Gessen keeps an inflammatory topic at room temperature, writing elegantly and without self pity.” —The New York Times Book Review