Knowing breast cancer from both sides - Cape Cod Healthcare

Like most websites, we use cookies and other similar technologies for a number of reasons, such as keeping our website reliable and secure, personalizing content, providing social media features and to better understand how our site is used. By using our site, you are agreeing to our use of these tools. Learn More

Your Location is set to:

Schedule a Mammogram

Schedule your routine screening mammogram today.

Request Appointment

Published on October 01, 2021

Knowing breast cancer from both sides

Kathryn Razinha - Breast Cancer

Kathryn Razinha knows breast cancer, both as a caregiver and a patient. For 10 years she worked at the Cuda Women's Health Center in Hyannis, seven years in medical records, and she also worked with peer patients in the Breast Cancer Support Group there. And, for four years, she was treated for her own case of the disease.

Razinha has since moved to Tennessee, but shared her story with Cape Cod Health News last year.

At her annual mammogram appointment at Cuda in October of 2016, an area in her left breast was identified for biopsy. After the biopsy, she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma and in situ cancer. Further, the cancer was identified as HER2 positive, which meant that her hormones encouraged the growth of the cancer cells. "In a good way that meant the cells would also be responsive to treatment," she said. 

Razinha received the news from Cuda nurse practitioner Katy McElroy, NP, who happens to be a good friend.

"I could see the tears welling in her eyes," Razinha said. "But I'm a very faith-based person and it felt like somebody was there with me (letting her know everything would work out well)."

Razinha, who has three grown children and three "beautiful" granddaughters, faced a course of chemotherapy and then radiation treatment, and she did not hesitate about where her treatment would take place.

"We have state-of-the-art equipment and I found that being able to stay local, was most conducive to being able to continue to work through treatment. Being clinically trained and knowing that I did my research, was very helpful," she said. "I felt comfortable that because of our association with Dana­ Farber Cancer Institute, that the tumor board would review my case, making the best recommendations for the type of cancer, and I could make informed decisions towards my care."

In 2019, Cape Cod Hospital became a member of the Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative. The collaborative helps disseminate the latest evidence-based best practices and standards to member hospitals and physician practices. Member hospitals also have access to consultations and support services, including on-site specialty second opinion clinics, tumor board conferences and physician lectures.

Razinha, who is a registered nurse and clinically educated, worked together with her breast surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist Molly Sullivan, MD on her treatment plan.

She began her journey with a breast-conserving, hidden scar lumpectomy.

Along with chemotherapy, which meant a weekly infusion at Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center at Cape Cod Hospital for four months. Radiation for five weeks, then her Herceptin infusion was continued once every three weeks for the rest of that year. She was placed on the drug Letrozole, which is an aromatase inhibitor that combats cancer cells, and will be on the drug for another 2 years.

Being a partner in her treatment plan was a great comfort, Razinha said.

"It gave me a feeling that saving my life, preserving my life, was partly my decision and choice," she said, her voice breaking slightly. "It is very empowering to be able to have that choice."

That feeling is shared by many women who come to Cuda, said Anne Morris, MD, a radiologist with Cape Cod Healthcare.

"The Cuda center delivers warm, compassionate care to the women of our community, and we pride ourselves on being a Center of Excellence with the latest technology for breast imaging right here on Cape Cod," she said.

The chemo treatments were "as pleasant as they could be," due to a "super" nursing staff, Razinha said. She is equally effusive about the staff in the radiation oncology area of Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center.

Unfortunately, cancer was not new to Razinha when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was successfully treated for a sarcoma while in her 20s, as well as endometrial cancer in her 40s. She has several risk factors, including the fact that her mother had ovarian cancer, and had been given the drug DES, which was given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage from the 1940s through the 1960s, and was later found to put the daughters of those women at greater risk for certain cancers. She also had taken the generic version of the acid reflux drug Zantac, which has been linked to breast cancer. In addition, there is a history of multiple cancers on both sides of her family tree.

The good news was that testing done for the genes that cause reproductive cancers, BRCA 1 and 2 came back negative, which Razinha said relieved her daughter and her son who is the father of Kathy's three granddaughters.

These days, Razinha is focused on her family. While she suffers from a few side effects of the treatments, like problems with hand mobility and her eyes, they don't prevent her from doing most things she enjoys.