Sanford Chip results: Two patients’ perspectives

After genetic test, Ashley Schwab and Megan Baldridge feel more in control

Ashley Schwab and Megan Baldridge sit next to each other in the lobby of Sanford Imagenetics.

Ashley Schwab and Megan Baldridge recently received their Sanford Chip genetic test results and had a common reaction: relief.

The Sanford Chip requires just one blood draw. The results may help identify how your body responds to certain medications based on your distinct genetic make-up, as well as reveal an increased risk of some genetic diseases.

“I took the Sanford Chip test because I worry about everything,” Baldridge says. “As a woman, something like the possibility of having BRCA1 or BRCA2 was always a concern in the back of my mind. So having these results that show I don’t have these specific genetic changes, and I can follow normal screening protocols and normal lifestyle choices, that was a huge sigh of relief to me.”

Schwab felt the same way about her results.

“It can be scary if you find out that you have a condition, and how do you handle that? But not knowing is also scary,” she said. “If your risk is there, it’s still going to be there whether you know about it or not. So by knowing that and being able to figure out what to do about it, I feel much more comfortable knowing that I’m doing what I can to prevent it. It’s not a guarantee, but I’m trying.”

Baldridge agreed that knowing the information from her Sanford Chip results helps her feel more in control.

“When I was talking to friends and family about the test, they were like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t want to know if I have that kind of thing.’ But for me, it’s like the more information I have, the more reassured I can be, or the more proactive I can be,” she said. “It feels like a sense of empowerment, a ‘knowledge is power’ kind of thing.”

Answering questions

For Schwab, her results filled in some gaps in information about her health.

“I can control what I do in a day, what I eat, how much I exercise, how I’m going about screening, those types of things,” she explained. “But the one thing I didn’t know is what did I inherit? I was able to take the information from my results and put all the puzzle pieces together to figure out what lifestyle things I can do, what screenings I should do, what is part of my family history, what is genetics. I can put it all together to figure out how do I best live my life to be proactively preventing things.”

Baldridge said talking to people about the Sanford Chip also has helped dispel some misconceptions.

“I’ve had a couple people ask me if the chip feels weird,” she said with a laugh. “It’s nice to be able to explain that it’s just a blood test. My family is also really into genealogy and doing those kinds of ancestry tests. It’s been interesting to explain how this kind of test is different, how it’s really about your health and medications. And that your doctors can do something with your results.”

Getting insights and reassurance

The simplicity of what the patient needs to do to have the test done, paired with the many ways the results can be used in health care decisions, makes both Schwab and Baldridge glad they did it.

“For me, I wanted to know before I needed something,” Schwab said. In addition to knowing she doesn’t carry any of the genetic disease predispositions, seeing how she processes medications was helpful, too.

“I’ve had friends and family members who have had negative side effects for medications, and I didn’t want to experience that,” she said. “I know my doctor looked at my medications and my results to see if there are any things I needed to shift because of that. And there wasn’t any. It has given me peace of mind, having the ability for them to confirm that the medications I have are working and are the best option for me.”

Baldridge said the medication results are especially valuable to her. “I’ve had a lot of really bad side effects to a lot of different medications. So getting the results to show I really do process some of these kind of drugs differently, it reassured me that it’s not something wrong with me, it’s my genetics. For something like depression or anxiety, you don’t want that to get any worse because of a medication. So having this information is really powerful. It’s something that going forward, my doctor could know from the start, ‘Maybe this drug would be better than that one,’ instead of always doing a trial and error.”

Immediate benefits

Schwab points out the potential of the Sanford Chip to help people with all kinds of conditions.

“If someone has cardiac problems or heart disease, it’s so important to have the right medication working effectively,” she said. The same goes for people getting treated for infections, immune system issues or high cholesterol. Even treating things that aren’t immediately life-threatening can be greatly affected by the medications used.

“Some people will stop taking a medication because of the side effects. They’d rather deal with their pain or depression symptoms than deal with the side effects of a medication,” Schwab said. For others, they might stop taking a medication because they don’t see any improvement at all. “So being able to find out before you take a medication, knowing if this medication will work as well for you. Or you need a different dosage. Or you need a different medication. I think that is so empowering for people that are dealing with some of these things that really affect their day-to-day lives.”

Learn more about the Sanford Chip genetic test.

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Posted In Genetics, Innovations

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