I declined this blood test. Here’s why.

Earlier this week I learned about a new(ish) blood test that can detect circulating tumor DNA. Stated plainly, it’s a simple blood draw that can tell a patient if their cancer will come back. The test is called the Guardant Reveal™ Liquid Biopsy Test.

45-year-old woman wrapped in blanket smiling and looking off camera.

As of mid-August, the manufacturer of the test – precision oncology company Guardant Health – has expanded its availability to include not only colon cancer patients (one of the first use cases), but also breast and lung cancer patients.

My oncologist (and this is one the things I love about him) shared the information with me as education only – not to persuade me to take it or to decline it. I’m glad he did, as the more we know as survivors, the better informed we can be in our care.

I know many people have elected to take the test. It’s a personal decision, and more power to them.

Speaking for myself, however, it was a super easy decision to say “no thank you.”

What a slippery slope that would be, knowing with a high level of certainty that breast cancer cells are still circulating through my system. Realizing that no matter how healthfully I eat, how faithfully I exercise, or even how fervently I pray, this nasty little disease will come back at some undetermined future point.

Plus, I’m prone to worry on even the best of days. Can you imagine being a worrier by nature and then living in the wake of sobering knowledge like this? Yowzers.

As we discussed it together, he reminded me that when cancer occurs, the disease eventually makes itself known. He also reminded me you can’t treat something that hasn’t yet happened. Which is another way of saying that whatever this test would tell me – God forbid it should be positive – wouldn’t impact my outcome as a patient.

If I had the blood test, and if it were positive, all it would mean is that I have this health-related raincloud over my head that I cannot un-know.

Emphatically no thank you.

Nor do I want to know the exact date, time and nature of my death, or every s#$!-hitting fan moment of the rest of my days until I meet my maker.

When the appointed time comes, I know where I’m going, and I’d rather not be partially-present in the meantime, plagued by fear and worry about when or how my cancer will come back, and if it will be the thing that does me in.  

Until such time, I’m going to take this grateful little heart of mine and do my best not to screw up His mercies that are new each morning.

Life is good – really good – and I am here for it.

Leave a Reply