Man asks if school where wife worked played role in her cancer diagnosis

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A man said he wants to know if the school where his wife worked played a role in her terminal cancer and possibly other cases.

Susan Busillo was the school nurse at Southwood Elementary School in the Hunter's Creek neighborhood.

Her husband, Daniel Busillo, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in fall 2016. She died in January.


Susan Busillo continued to work at the school during her two-year battle with cancer.

"She loved her job," Daniel Busillo said. "She loved the kids, the parents, the teachers."

He said his wife was concerned, because she was one of seven front-office employees at the school who were diagnosed with cancer in three years.

In July, the school's principal contacted the school district with concerns about five breast cancer cases.

The district said it inspected the school, using a four-step CDC manual about identifying cancer clusters.

Officials said going beyond step No. 1 was unwarranted, because the school was built on open pasture land in 1997 under new codes and environmental standards, because it uses the same water system as the community and because no cases emerged among children.

The CDC said breast cancer is common and not often linked to environmental causes.

Because of those factors, no further investigation was done by the district, and it was concluded that there was no cancer cluster at the school.

Daniel Busillo said more must be done.

"Nothing is bringing her back," he said. "Whether it be a horrible coincidence or a moment where they close the school down and get everyone out of there, nothing is going to bring her back."

The school district provided Channel 9 with the following statement:

"The health and well-being of staff and students are of the utmost importance to the school district."

An Orange County Public Schools spokesman said indoor air quality tests are conducted at each school every summer.

The last test conducted at Southwood Elementary School came back clear, the spokesman said.

An overall environmental assessment was conducted at the school in January.

The district said it resulted in only minor maintenance issues that are being repaired.

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