We've been keeping stuff light here on the blog lately, trying to focus on a bunch of our travels and renovations and other fun happenings. Behind the scenes, though, I'll admit that things have been a bit rough. I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder last year that's thrown me for kind of a loop. It's nothing that can't be handled – more or less – with proper treatment, but it appears to be the root cause of an unexplained miscarriage and thyroid issues and other various disorders that have stymied my doctors in the past.

I felt a bit of shock over it all initially, but mostly I'm angry. I'm SO mad that this ridiculously simple test wasn't performed sooner, and I was left in pain for longer than necessary. This discovery explained years and years of my life – my childhood and adolescence spent in and out of exam rooms – all at once.

Photo of me as a kid On top of that, a couple friends have been diagnosed with cancer recently. One after another.

In the past, I feel like the “big C” has been so alien and foreign to me, I haven't even been able to wrap my mind around how to begin to help these people I love. I've gone straight to denial and wallowed there indefinitely. Now, though, I have a slightly better understanding of what it feels like to sit in that chair, hearing test results and feeling the weight of it. Feeling that swell of emotion that rises up again and again before finally smoothing into some kind of concept that can be truly grasped.

Sister with Baby Bam

Bam is 10 months old already and it seems like I've been on a rollercoaster ride his entire life. My sister moved in to help when I was pregnant with him, and now she's moving out. Somewhat ironically, she's going to live with my dad. I should really back up here: the person I call my sister is actually my half-sister. We have different dads…and she's living with mine. A few people have asked it that's weird.

Frankly, my family is such a disjointed sort of enigma that this feels perfect.

Exactly like this genetic thing: it's so complicated that you have no choice but to boil it down to a few simple truths. Then – only then – it starts to make sense.

This cancer thing is the same, I suppose. You find out the reality of it, and suddenly it's not so foreign or convoluted.

People can wrap their minds around any sort of reality when it's laid out as indisputable truth.

Sister with Minion

So I drove my sister up to the Bay Area last week and I've been in a strange sort of mourning for the last few days. Seeing my dad play around with the kids, knowing that she's carving out a bigger opening for me to spend time up there…it means everything to me. Family is all that really matters in the end.

Family and health. It's fitting that those are the two things that came crashing down on me all at once.

Dad and Minion

We celebrated dad's 70th birthday – conveniently timed during my sister's move up – with a little cake and a nice meal on the water.

Jessica and the kids

Then I came home, and my dad's ex-wife came to visit me at our place in San Diego. Yet another coincidence that seemed to fall into place to help explain all of these things I've been dealing with all at once. I keep introducing her around town, explaining that she's my “ex-stepmom.” That doesn't feel right. There's never an “ex-” in parenthood. There's never really a “step-” in family or a “half-” in sister. She's my Jessica. Plain and simple. Jessica and I have been sitting around all week chatting about these strange situations that we've both been faced with at the same time: the medical stuff, the family stuff, the life obstinately whacking us over the head. Two countries and 30 years between us, we have these things in common. She's been going through similar battles, and we've collectively decided that it comes down to this: truth.

When you know the truth, there is at least something you can do about it and a place to springboard off of.

I've been partnering with a few different medical groups to try to make a difference and create a positive outcome from what's been a bit of a trying year. Today, we're working with Counsyl to share that September 24-October 1 is National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week, a time to raise awareness and recognize those affected by hereditary forms of breast, ovarian and related cancers. 10% of the time, cancer is linked to a single gene mutation that has been passed down from generation to generation; this is called hereditary cancer. The good news is that there is screening available to help you know the truth about your potential risks for these cancers and to take action against these cancers before they can even develop. I urge you to have these conversations with your friends and family, and consider learning more about genetic screening options for hereditary cancers through your doctor and providers such as Counsyl. Because once you know the truth, you can start moving forward!

Have you been through any sort of genetic medical testing?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Counsyl. The opinions and text are all mine.