Survivor Spotlight – Merrilynn Cushman

Posted By on March 16th, 2012 at 9:02 am | 16 comments.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was a 40 year-old single mother of two, a 3 year-old and a 5 year-old. They were my touchstones. Every decision was based on what would give me a better chance to be here for them. My first baseline mammogram detected the breast cancer. I had a needle localization biopsy and was told that the margins from that procedure were adequate and I could proceed to radiation and tamoxifen. I wasn’t comfortable though and I went to Dr. Norman Wolmark for a 2nd opinion.

I had read that the risk of recurrence after a mastectomy was less than 1% as compared to 5% with a lumpectomy. One of the things I love best about Dr. Wolmark is that he never leaves the room until all your questions are answered. After discussing it with him, I decided to have a mastectomy. During that surgery, previously undetected cancer cells were found deeper in my breast. Listening to my own inner voice was the right thing to do.

I live 250 miles away from my closest family but my sister, sister-in-law and mother took turns coming to stay with me. A friend made a schedule for others in the community to drive me to appointments, cook meals, and do whatever I needed. I had purchased new wallpaper for my living room and when I came home from the hospital I found that they had put it up!

I’m private and hadn’t planned on sharing so publicly about having breast cancer. But after my surgery my 5 year-old daughter (who is now 14) touched my face. She said “I’m like you. Will I have breast cancer too?” That motivated me to support finding a cure. That, and the desire to pay back for all the help I received.

Merrilynn is Community Relations Director at Titusville Area Hospital and represents Crawford County in the PBCC traveling photo exhibit. She loves spending time with her children and running.


16 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    I would love to know if Merrilynn Cushman is now taking the tamoxifen now after she had decided to have a mastectomy . Only because of the extremely low % rate of recurrance and know the awful side effects that the prescription can have .

  2. Mlc116 says:


    The initial treatment recommendation was lumpectomy, radiation, and Tamoxifen.

    I was also concerned about potential side effects. Biopsy results after my mastectomy did not indicate the need for further treatment – so no, I never took Tamoxifen.

    Thanks for your interest and apologies for the delayed response.


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