Shana Martin Verstegen ’02 discovered some good news earlier this week, when she received the results of a genetic test.
Verstegen, a world-champion log-roller had been living in fear of Huntington’s Disease. Her mother died of Huntington’s, a rare genetic condition that travels along a dominant gene. Always fatal, the illness doesn’t manifest until mid-life, and Verstegen has always known that she had a 50 percent chance of developing the disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that destroys muscle coordination, costing those who have it the ability to walk, talk, eat, and eventually breathe.
The gene that causes Huntington’s was discovered in 1993, but for the first 34 years of her life, Verstegen had determined not to be tested. But after marrying, she felt she had to know, for the sake of her husband. She took the test in June and discovered the results on June 24: she did not inherit the gene.
A Madison native, Verstegen competed in the Midwest Log Rolling Championships on Lake Monona and Lake Wingra June 28 and 29. The Lumberjack World Championships will take place in Hayward, Wisconsin, in July.