A Personal Battle with Breast Cancer

Becky Z

Becky credits the early detection of her cancer to her successful treatment.

Becky Zora is a 72-year-old retired high school art teacher residing in Mattapoisett. She spends the warmer months walking her community’s nature paths, swimming in Buzzard’s Bay and gardening. She likes to start projects in her sunroom ahead of time, well before spring begins.

Catching It Early

Similarly, Becky has always been proactive about her health, routine visits and screenings.

“My health is my priority, and I have never let my personal care slide,” she says. “Whenever I got the notice that it was time to go for a mammogram, I never missed because I knew the risk for breast cancer is real.”

Because of this dedication, Becky was surprised when last year her care team identified concerning lumps at a routine mammogram; it was early breast cancer.

Becky was immediately referred to breast surgeon Dr. Keren Braithwaite, Patient Navigator Mary Catherine and the team at the Southcoast Health Breast Center.

Connecting with Her Care Team

“Thanks to my care team, there was never anything I faced that I wasn’t prepared for,” Becky says. “During one of my biopsies, a lovely nurse talked me through the procedure, while another rubbed my shoulder. Everyone there knew what I needed at that moment.”

This support extended to her stay at St. Luke’s Hospital, where Becky received double mastectomy surgery to remove her breast tissue.

“With the support and professionalism of Dr. Braithwaite, Dr. Gagnon and Dr. Rizk, I made the decision to have a double mastectomy, though there was only cancer in my left breast. I did not want to face chemotherapy nor radiation, because of where I am in my life. We spoke intimately and deeply about my decision,” she says. Fortunately, Becky’s decision to have a double mastectomy proved wise when cancer was found in her opposite breast after performing an in-depth, pathology test post-procedure.

From the day of her surgery to her discharge, Becky felt right at home. “I was very thankful that I was able to receive this level of care, close to home. I never once faltered in my confidence with any specialist, team or facility at Southcoast,” she says.

Reflecting on her breast cancer journey, Becky is grateful for the connections she built with her care team. She felt continuously supported, with a personalized treatment plan filled with informative calls to answer all her questions and to prepare her for what was to come physically and mentally.

Recovery at Southcoast’s Breast Center

Now in remission, Becky has happily passed her six-month check-in and continues to monitor her health.  As her stamina slowly returns, she looks forward to resuming many of her beloved hobbies. She can’t wait for the warm weather when she will dip her feet in the water and return to her daily summer swims.

When she reflects on her motivation to move forward, she remembers the strong will of her late mother and the emotional support of her late husband, who always reminded Becky of her value. She thanks her daughter Kiah and cousin Carla for their inspiration and laughter. With care and compassion from the team at Southcoast Health, she learned to adjust to her illness and the surgery and become the healthy woman she is today.

Take Your Health into Your Own Hands

Becky credits the early detection of her cancer to her successful treatment.

She encourages everyone to be a pioneer of their own health, get routine visits and screenings, and never miss a mammogram. Please visit www.southcoast.org/services/breast-center/ or www.southcoast.org/services/cancer-care/ to learn more and be proactive with your own health plans.