You never know where life is going to lead you. For Walter Gordy, being diagnosed with lymphoma at the age of 32 despite a record of good health was a shock. But the news paled in comparison to what he would find out later after signing up for the DNA testing service 23andMe to check out at his health history: His longtime friend Mark Tolson was actually his half-brother.
The two men met in their twenties and were friends for 12 years before they learned of their shared DNA. Both were raised as only children by mothers who had used a donor and artificial insemination to have them. Unknown to any of them, their mothers, who knew each other from their local church choir, had chosen the same sperm donor.
It was Tolson who made the discovery. He had signed up for 23andMe after the birth of his son to learn more about his family and was shocked when he clicked on the “relatives” part of the online report.
“I saw a part that said ‘DNA relatives,’ so I clicked on that,” Tolson said during an interview on The Today Show. “It popped up and it said Walt Gordon III. I was like, ‘Mom, I know him!’”
Tolson called Gordy to tell him the news. At first, the cancer survivor couldn’t believe it but later came to the conclusion that cancer had been a blessing in disguise because it led him to sign up for 23andMe.
“Cancer was the best thing that ever to me because I was able to find a blessing on the end,” Gordy said.
Although the two didn’t grow up together, Gordy and Tolson are making up for lost time and even have the occasional sleepover at each other’s homes. They are also looking for other relatives they may have on their father’s side and hope that by sharing their story, they might be connected with more family.
We hope their search is successful!