Since I was about 12 years old I have always had
an interest in Genealogy and my family history. Can you imagine my surprise
when the promised copy of the Barking & District Historical Society’s
Annual Digest arrived earlier this year from Bill George?
The Annual was supplied to me because it included an article
that I had submitted on Frank Tingey, an ex-Barking Art Society member, but it
was another article that caught my eye, that of "Joan Luxford: Reminiscences".
You see my wife's maiden name is Luxford, and on reading Joan's
accounts a lot of the names mentioned were familiar, and yes you have guessed
it my wife and Joan are related. They don't know one and other, but their
common ancestor was John Luxford (1766-1834) who was Joan's second great
grandfather and my wife's 4th great grandfather, making my wife a third cousin
once removed to Joan.
John Luxford had 9 children; 6 sons & 3 daughters and it
was John's son William Luxford (1806-1893) that was Joan's great grandfather
and John's son Henry Luxford (1795-1841) that was my wife's 3rd great
All very interesting I hear you say but it's all just names and
dates, places of work, old addresses, war time achievements etc., etc., so why
bother? Well, by a strange twist of fate my research for so many years has
found a different usefulness that I could never have dreamed of. Back in
1972 when my mother was 53 years old she had breast cancer and although the
family was distraught she was a survivor and lived for another 20 years.
In 2008 my son had a freak accident, falling from a roof and
hurting his back but from subsequent follow up treatment it was established
that he had cancer of the spine, lymphoma which required horrific chemo
treatment. He has fully recovered and is fit and well, although the
thoughts of its return still lingers in the back of the mind. Then in 2010 I
was diagnosed with prostate cancer which thankfully has been treated. In all of
that time I never once thought about family history and illnesses until
this year when my eldest daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer and is
currently undergoing treatment.
It is because of my daughter and her conversations with the
medical teams involved that the obvious question of "is there cancer in
the family" was raised. It was then a case of "Dad what do you
know?" Well over the years I have had to obtain the GRO certificates of
birth, death and marriage to complete the information on the various family
groups that you build up in your own family trees.
Such things are not always so necessary now with so many search
engines and specialised web sites and programmes on family history. What I was
to learn surprised me, nay even shocked me. The further you go back in time so
the less specific the information can be on some causes of death. I found that
with each generation cancer has been seen in all of my families. Indeed on my
mother's side of the 9 siblings 5 were to have succumbed to cancer. On my
father's side of two siblings, 1 had succumbed to cancer.
Of my grandparents on both the maternal sides both grandmothers
had died of cancer and of my great grandparent's one of the eight had died of
cancer. On reviewing my wife's family, thankfully the scourge of this
illness has only shown itself once but its cause was most likely to have been
brought about because of working in the African sun repairing aeroplanes during
the Second World War.
Why do we need to know this? Well it appears that there is a
dedicated group of people in Great Ormond Street that research the
possibilities of genetic cancer in all its form and this is where my daughter
will be taking the findings.
While this is an aspect of my family tree and genealogy in
general that has never concerned me before my question to those of you that do
family history is "Do we owe it to our loved ones to find out and advise
of the possibilities or just file the information away, as I have done
for so many years?".