Survivor Series – Meet Mandy Crispim

By the time her story is published, Mandy-Lyn Crispim will have undergone her sixth surgery.


Mandy Crispim
Mandy Crispim

“I didn't know much about breast cancer before my mom died on October 1st of 2010,” Mandy shared.

But after losing her mother, she’d learn.

“My brother had her diary. She knew. She wasn’t diagnosed, she just went with it. She just gave up and let cancer take over. She had known since 2005. Five years. She was a CNA for 25 years, and she saw what people went through. Maybe that was a trigger? She helped people, she took care of people for so many years. Maybe what she saw was part of that fear. She was only 58 when she died. I didn’t know my mom’s whole history. She was adopted. I didn’t know that side of the family or history. So, it was always, when is my time?”

Twelve years later, Mandy would herself be diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was her learned watchfulness that caught it.

Alexis Cormier (Mandy's daughter) and Mandy Crispim
Alexis Cormier (Mandy's daughter) and Mandy Crispim

The 45-year-old is mother of one daughter, wife to her husband Alexandre, and grammy of three wonderful grandchildren. Mandy and Alexandre share their home with their beloved dogs Luna and Lucy. From Norwich, but living in Groton for many years, she has had a long career in banking and currently has the role of Cash Management Officer at Chelsea Groton Bank. A Zumba aficionado, she also sits on the boards of St. Vincent de Paul and the Madonna Place, and she’s an ambassador for the Norwich Chamber of Commerce’s Business Network International Rose City chapter. Soon, she’ll join a Fresh Connections Women’s Network.

She’s very busy, but not too busy to monitor her health. And specifically, making sure to do self-exams. In October 2022, when she noticed something wasn’t right, she saw a doctor who told her what she likely felt was a benign cyst, and an ultrasound was ordered. But no biopsy.

“I told the doctor my mother passed away from stage 4 breast cancer, and I’d been doing self-testing.” Soon after, Mandy would see a new doctor who ordered a mammogram and told her, ‘We need biopsies.’

The tests came back with the news: Stage 1 non-invasive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) was discovered in her right chest, she said.

“The shock of receiving that MyChart message …they say don't Google but of course, I’m Googling away. But I knew before I spoke to the doctor that I had cancer. That was a shock, but in a weird way, because of my mom, I’d always wondered, when’s my time?”

Mandy said that testing found three plus spots on the left and right side too, but they were benign. The saliva gene test came back noting she was at low risk for colon cancer but at risk for breast cancer. After further testing at Hartford Health in Norwich, she told her doctor she wanted a double mastectomy, before any more remaining biopsies.

“She said, ‘I won’t tell you no.’ My mind was made up. I'm not putting myself or my family through this, praying that nothing comes back.”

So, around a month after she first discovered the cancer, on November 30, 2022, she underwent a double mastectomy. After a two-month recovery, and over the next 16 months, she’d undergo five surgeries with a sixth set for late March 2024.

“I was very blessed because the size of the masses was under 5 cm, and I did not have to have radiation or chemo. I've heard the horror stories. This was caught early on, so I didn't need extensive care. My heart goes out to the women who have to. Sometimes I feel like my story is not as important as someone else's because I didn't go through as much as others go through.”

But she has been through a lot. Surgeries after surgeries. And, it turned out that, “I made the right choice.”

“After the double mastectomy, it turned out that I had breast cancer on both sides that wasn’t caught on the biopsy; it was caught on the pathology report. If I didn't have the double mastectomy, I would have had to do this all over again. I couldn't do that for me, for my family. It’s the best choice I made.”

During her treatments and surgeries, she had a lot of support.

TBBCF Walk: front row left to right, grandchildren Arya, Xylee and Alex, Back row left to right, Mandy and husband Alexandre
TBBCF Walk: front row left to right, grandchildren Arya, Xylee and Alex, Back row left to right, Mandy and husband Alexandre

“I have to say, my husband is the best support I could have ever had. He said, ‘If you're OK, I'm OK. If you're not OK, we’ll figure it out.’ He’s my rock. He told me that I am the strongest woman he knows. But I give him the credit. He’s always there for support …from day one.”

And her daughter, too, was a bulwark. And called her mom’s bluff.

“She told me I was not showing my emotions. I always felt that somebody has had it worse than me. But she was very open and said, ‘You say you’re strong and can handle this,’ but that even with a show of strength, I needed support and I needed to be open to it.”

At her job, though she was “very quiet” about what was happening to her, when people did learn about her breast cancer journey, “They were like, ‘How do you feel? Can I help?’ When I was out, one person sent me a card every week. People would say, ‘I'm so sorry. I didn't know.’ I’d say, please don't be sorry. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Fortunately for her, she said, “Chelsea Groton Bank is very community-oriented.”

“They take care of their employees, community, and customers all the way up to the president, Tony Joyce, who’s been rooting for me from the beginning,” she said.

Days before her sixth surgery, Mandy said she “feels great.”

“The only thing I really want to get back to is Zumba and dance. I haven't worked out since October 2022 since I’ve always been healing from surgeries. One day, a kind of sad day, I was missing my normalcy, so I went to dance and just sat there and watched them. Seeing their motivation made me OK, but it was still a sad day. But though I can’t do some things I want to, I’m alive.”

Having met TBBCF member Gabrielle Tudisca through Zumba, in October 2023, a year after she was diagnosed with cancer, and less than a year after her first surgery, she and her family walked the Walk.

The omnipresent wondering and worrying, ‘when is my time?’ doesn’t mean what it did before October 2022.

Now is her time. In a very good way.

Sharing with our readers, a treasured legacy photo, although somewhat blurry it is a very heartfelt memory for Mandy.

Mandy's 2008 wedding: Alexis Cormier, Lonnie Cormier, Mandy and husband Alexandre and Mandy's mother, Linda (Evans) Waterman.
Mandy's 2008 wedding: Alexis Cormier, Lonnie Cormier, Mandy and husband Alexandre and Mandy's mother, Linda (Evans) Waterman.

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