A Woman’s Crusade against Breast Cancer


Susan Kulungian lights a candle at St. Gregory Church of North Andover for all those afflicted with breast cancer.

Susan Kulungian lights a candle at St. Gregory Church of North Andover for all those afflicted with breast cancer.

By Tom Vartabedian

ANDOVER, Mass. — Susan Kulungian smiles coyly when people call her “the mad hatter.”
One day, she comes dressed as a pirate with a patch over her eye and the next day a chef with an armful of groceries. The hats are worn to match the outfit.  A baseball cap comes on when she cheers for her favorite team — and there are days when there’s a bandana. Or no hat at all.

That’s when the real Susan Kulungian steps forward — a stay-at-home mom with two children fighting breast cancer. One look at Kulungian with her hats and you’d never know the 45-year-old was fighting the dreaded disease. According to the American Cancer Society, one out of eight women is afflicted with this disease in America.

“By bringing a smile to others, I find it’s the best medicine for me,” she said. “A good sense of humor often works wonders. There are others out there who might have the same thing and could use a quick pickup. I want to show people that you can overcome obstacles with a positive attitude.”

Susan’s blog (kulungian.blogspot.com) becomes instant therapy. She’s got a section titled “The many hats you wear when you’re bald” and another updating readers on her radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

A piece called “Hair today, gone tomorrow,” details her reaction to the treatments.

The natural, bald look is often seen in church on Sundays when Susan attends with husband John, who chairs the Board of Trustees, and their two children, Tori, 15, and Nick, 12. The family support has been huge ever since Susan was diagnosed in January.

“I got the news right after Armenian Christmas,” she recalled. “I was in a store buying crafts when my cell phone rang. It was my oncologist telling me the cancer test was positive. I froze in place and became disoriented.”

Susan stormed out of the store as tears welled in her eyes. She got in her car and broke the news to her husband at work. The children were informed later that afternoon.