All of us have cancer narratives that shape our lives, and we have little choice about how those narratives begin. But we do have a choice about how we respond. We can control our own information, and we can make it public and accessible to everyone who is working towards a better future for us and our children.
In a relatively new field called multiscale biology, big data is helping us learn from a massive body of information, as well as the networks they form that define the complex biological processes at play within any living system, that we could not have understood if we stuck with looking at smaller collections of factors in isolation.
We do indeed have stunning potential control over our health, and should make better use of it. Our feet and forks are, or should be, the master levers of medical destiny. But even the best application of skill-power will not turn weight into a behavior. Weight is not a choice, and we should all choose to recognize that.
Like Henrietta Lacks' family, millions of us will soon confront questions about our genomes. We should learn as much as we can, and plan more carefully now, before it is too late. Our genomic data may reveal aspects of our fate, but we can still potentially control how and when the information is used.