This page will teach you how to use interviews and online networking tools to identify cousins, aunts, uncles, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins or other relatives likely to carry your variant.
Start with the People You Know
Previous pages covered discussing your health history and family structure with people you already know. You may need this information to find more distant relatives who have your variant. Start with a list of a list of the names of your ancestors and any of their descendants that you already know about.
Talking with Living Relatives to Find Additional Relatives
- Contacting an aunt or uncle (or great-aunt, great-uncle) can be useful for learning about all your cousins that are descended from them.
- Ask if they have children or grandchildren. Your parents and grandparents might not have known everything about the younger relatives, of their siblings or cousins, so some of your living relatives might have been overlooked.
- Once again, ask for contact information for other relatives, especially as you research more distant relatives. Many people won’t share health information about others, either due to its personal nature or simply because they don’t know, but they might be willing to help you get contact information so you can ask directly.
- Many of your relatives who have your variant may not have cancer. This is very important to know. Try to build a complete pedigree of everyone with and without cancer.
Don’t Forget Low-Tech
While many of your relatives may be on social networking sites, you may need to try alternate methods of communication for others. If you can get somebody’s phone number or physical address, you can call or write them.
If you can’t get contact information:
When trying to get in contact with a distant relative, you may not be able to find family members who know their contact information. There are other options. Some phone numbers and addresses are listed publicly. People Search Engines can sometimes provide you with a phone number or address for someone given only their name. However as with the Facebook section above, if their name is common, make sure they’re really the relative you’re looking for.
- White Pages – A free widely used people search engine.
- Addresses.com – Another free people search engine.
- Pipl.com – A comprehensive free people search engine.
- FamilyLinks – A service of the Red Cross intended to help put family members in touch who have been separated by crises.
- Cyndi’s List – A list of various people finding resources, organized by category and circumstance.
- Techwalla – How to Find Someone on the Internet for Free – A simple guide to finding long lost relatives.
After you have identified a relative, you can ask them to help you expand your family tree. You can let them know about your attempt to classify your VUS just like you did with your other relatives.
If a someone mentions a living relative you have not heard of before, try to get in contact with them. They will know more about their medical history and their closest relatives than a second-hand source.
Once you are in contact with a given relative, make sure you take down the following information:
- Medical information related to your disease, including age at diagnosis.
- Any genetic testing that they may have already had.
- Information about other family that you might not know about.