My Daughter’s Diagnosis Won’t Defeat Her

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

Share this article:

Share article via email
diagnosis will not defeat

Here’s the scene: My wife, Jill, and I are at Jill’s work. We’re on speakerphone with our daughter’s friend, who is at a hospital almost 1,000 miles away with three other friends and Lou, our daughter. (Lou is our daughter’s nickname.) The reason for the call is to listen in as Lou gets the results of her DNA test for Huntington’s. It’s a long-awaited appointment.

As we listen, we hear five college students on the other end of the line. They walk down the hallway, five young women on the verge of starting exciting new lives. Five brilliant, beautiful, strong women who are destined to change the world for the better.

As they walk into the meeting room, we hear several people, including the genetic counselor, a psychotherapist, and a social worker, greet them. Jill and I start to tense up. We’ve been down this road before; Jill faced a similar roomful of people last year when she heard that her genetic test was positive for Huntington’s.

The words we fear come again: Lou tested positive for the Huntington’s gene. Jill and I start to cry. Meanwhile, miles away, the room falls silent for what seems an eternity, and then we hear the genetic counselor ask Lou, “How do you feel?” She replies, “I’m hungry.” She doesn’t cry or fall apart.

The professionals ask Lou if she has any questions (she answers no), and if her friends would be with her that day (yes), and would they support her in the future (yes). They give her some options about future visits and tell her that this diagnosis used to be a death sentence, but there’s hope on the horizon.

Still no tears from Lou.

But there are plenty of tears from me and Jill. Our tears are for her, for us, and for our entire family. How will this diagnosis affect her now and in the future? Will she be able to find a way to deal with the consequences? Will this ruin or fuel her?

As Lou and her friends walk out of the room, we realize something rare is happening: All five of the girls are quiet. Quiet is unusual for them, as they are all normally a bubbly bunch, with lots to say. Even on the phone, we could feel their heaviness.

Another wave of sadness washes over me and Jill as we start to text family members. The news isn’t something you can prepare for, and it certainly isn’t something you want to share, but everyone wants to know. It takes four weeks for someone to get the results of the genetic test — four agonizing weeks when you don’t dare think about a negative outcome — so the wave of grief you feel almost drowns you.

Lou is legitimately hungry, so her friend who is holding the phone tells us Lou will call after they eat.

An hour later, she calls. She is composed and sounds just like herself. From the time we hung up after her appointment until she called, it felt like we didn’t take a breath, but as soon as we hear from her, we are calmer. She tells us that she is really sad, but she was ready for the diagnosis and, now that she knows for sure, she can stop worrying about it as an unknown factor in her life.

Her friends are all staying with her, and they have a lot of activities planned for that day and that weekend. They are all prepared to help her deal with her emotions any way she asks them to. Lou also tells us that nothing changes for her. She has tests to study for, a graduation to plan for, an apartment to find, and a new job to start in the summer.

As we end the call, we are once again reminded that our daughter is a force to be reckoned with; that she will continue to move forward; that she will graduate; that she will find an apartment; that she will be wonderful at her new job; and most importantly, that Huntington’s will not stop her.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Logan Siekerman avatar

Logan Siekerman

I am 26 and was just diagnosed with Huntington's this past March. My dad had huntington's so I grew up with that being my family's lifestyle centered around that.
I have always assumed that I had it, weird feeling that I just knew.
This makes me hopeful, I too, didn't cry that day.
(though I do cry by myself at night some days).

I'm trying really hard to really put me first because I haven't been living my life....not the way I should be.

I hope we get a cure, and soon.

Best wishes to Lou.


Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Your comment really struck a chord with me as I observed my wife deal with her father's valiant journey in dealing with Huntington's, coupled with her dealing with the news of her diagnosis, along with that of our daughter's. So, you have my condolences about your father having it, and I know how difficult it is for you to realize you have it too. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you have family and several close friends you can share with how you're feeling, especially when you're sad.
You mentioned that you feel you aren't living the kind of life you should be living. What did you mean by that?
I, too, hope there is a cure soon.
One day at a time. That's all we can do.

Kiren A avatar

Kiren A

I keep coming back to research it and after my father passed it is something that as much that I try to ignore does exist. Im in my early 30s and have had a rough childhood and learned about Huntington as my fathers disease progressed. I have a young daughter and I beg and pray each day, I pray for this disease to die either with me or better yet my poor father who I saw suffer and die a horrible death. This isn't something that is easy to deal with. Im aware that it skips a generation but Im also aware of the fact that theres a 50/50 chance and that thus can DIE! I wish it would as it does cause so much pain. Not just in the person going through it but they're family. I feel that our brain is something powerful and if we focus on being positive good things will happen in our lives but im also aware of a deathly disease that took my father away. People should know about its existence. Our lives mean something to us, we are important. I dont want to feel like I am a passenger on a flight on a plane in the 1950's that crashed in Colorado. I did some research and I believe that if you dont think about this bs as much you can avoid it, believe it or not. Our mind is something that is very convincible.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.