The last time I saw my doctor, she asked me if I wanted to pursue “Oncotype Testing.”  With this test, they analyze a sample of my tumor to determine how likely recurrence will be and, therefore, how aggressively to treat the disease.  It’s an extremely costly test (over $3,000), but my insurance agreed to cover it, which is a little strange (or miraculous?), considering how much of this journey they’re not covering!  But I guess it could possibly save them money in the long run, as Oncotype determines which of the major treatments are needed and which are not.  My reasoning for agreeing to the test was simple: to evaluate the degree of risk I was taking.  I know that many of you were nervous about my opting out of chemo, and I hoped that the results would validate my decision.  A low recurrence score was obviously the desired outcome…

The call came yesterday.  I am at the very bottom of the recurrence score.  So low, in fact, that the nurse practitioner who spoke to me revealed…drum roll, please…that even the oncologist wouldn’t recommend chemo, based on my results!  Finally–flunking a test is is a good thing!  This news should put a lot of your worries to rest…as well as validating the position I’ve held all along.  By refusing chemo, I am no longer taking a risk, I am following the doctor’s orders!  Hurray for Oncotype Testing!

Here’s my concern: how many women blindly follow the prescribed treatment without the benefit of this test?  How many actually go through months of chemo, not knowing that a test might have revealed that it wasn’t necessary?  I’m a little (a lot) shocked that Oncotype testing isn’t a mandatory part of the cancer process and that insurances don’t automatically cover it.  There’s not much I can do about that, but I keep thinking of the women around the US today who are docilely agreeing to do chemo and might not even know that this test is available to them, or that it might determine the highly disruptive and painful treatment to be unnecessary.   It seems ridiculous, perhaps, but I’d love for you to pray for those women today–that they’ll do their research and discover this test and pressure their insurance company into allow it to be performed so they can make their treatment decisions with accurate information and scientific backing.

Bottom line?  Last week, my oncologist told me that my risk of recurrence was 18 percent and that I really needed to consider chemo.  This week, with no change in my condition, she told me recurrence was an 8 percent risk–and that I’d be a fool to do chemo…  I’ll take that kind of news!

I won’t update again until I hear back from my doctor after Wednesday’s surgery.  That might not be until the following Friday or Monday.  The golden words I really need to hear?  We got it all–the margins are clear!  Please pray with me toward that outcome.  This scenario might allow a return to my home by the end of October.  The alternate scenario would mean another wait, full of further surgeries, possibly taking me into December before a return to my home in Germany.

That’s Bryon climbing down from the combine and Dorinda in the cab with my mom…
This farm is a family affair.

I’ll end with some pictures of a fascinating and wonderful evening spent with some friends here.  I’ve taken tours of farms before…but a tour with Bryon Sparling is TRULY an experience!  By the time it was over, I was pretty sure that I could single-handedly put a tractor together if someone stood me in front of a mountain of parts–like twisty things and twirly things and giant hair-cutting-ish things and toothy things and noise making things .  Yup, that’s the kind of mechanic I am! 

I’m not kidding–this blue tractor could wash your dishes, book a plane ticket and clear up your dandruff.  Seriously.  It’s a big blue brilliant beast!  (And it has automatic steering, which is pretty impressive!  You think I can have that added to my Opel Astra in Germany?!

Dorinda–my “farmer friend.”  She agrees with me that turny-things and
twirly-things are mechanical terms! 


Dorinda’s elegant and dainty tea collection…  That’s Dorothy in the background–
I’m so sorry I don’t have a better picture!

The Sparlings are just one of the families in my mom’s church who are more than friends–they’re prayer warriors and committed co-travelers in my journey with cancer.  They’re family.  I owe much of my peace of mind and comfort to support like theirs–and like yours.  Thank you.

I think he might be a squirrel/chipmunk hybrid…  Not sure.  But he’s
 mighty entertaining.  This is him single-handedly str
ipping a large
tree of its pine cones and stopping to pose mid-feast!



  1. This post makes me homesick for Illinois. Farmer country…Thanks for introducing us to some of your friends/family there.

    YEAH GOD!! No chemo!!

    Praying for amazing results from ONE LAST SURGERY on Wed.

  2. awesome!!! praise God for no chemo. i know how much you wanted this. so is that the last invasive surgery as of this moment that you will have to endure. so glad to hear this my dear! hope all continues to be well…oh wait, i think you have to do the surgery still in october but not again or anything after it. praise GOd for that.

  3. YAY for no Chemo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Glad things are looking better for you Michele!! It’s a great news to all of us!

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