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.

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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:

    Robin,

    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.

    Merrilynn

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