This year, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and thousands will not receive lifesaving screenings and treatment because they either lack access or resources to receive quality care. One UTC alumna, Dr. Yara Robertson, is doing her part to ensure awareness and treatment of breast health issues.
Robertson, a Memphis, TN native, came to UTC to major in biology. After graduating from UTC in 1998, Robertson went on to enter medical school at Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. Her accomplishments were so great that when she graduated in 2004, she earned a surgical residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR.
“Her work at ETSU was outstanding. Only the very cream-of-the-crop get surgery residencies!” said Rebekah Bell, one of Robertson’s former professors in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at UTC.
After completing her residency in 2010, Robertson was accepted into the Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas.
“During my general surgery training, I developed a passion for treating diseases of the breast,” Robertson said.
Since completing her fellowship in 2011, Robertson has gone on to work at Metro Surgical Associates, Inc in Atlanta, GA, as a Breast Surgical Oncologist.
“I moved to Atlanta to join Dr. Rogsbert Phillips-Reed at Metro Surgical Associates. She is the founder of Sisters By Choice, an innovated leader in breast cancer education, awareness, and support for women diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Robertson.
Robertson is board certified in General Surgery by the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She is also a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the Association of Women Surgeons.
In addition, Robertson spends much of her time engaging in community outreach.
“I believe that everyone, including the uninsured and the underinsured, should be given quality breast health care,” Robertson said. “I’m passionate about eliminating disparities in breast cancer treatment, especially in the African American community.”
She participates in a number of health fairs providing free clinical breast exams and lectures on breast health. Robertson is also a very active member, and the youngest board member, of the non-profit breast cancer organization Sisters By Choice (SBC), a multi-faceted organization providing services for the uninsured and underserved women. SBC provides over 800 free mammograms and breast exams to uninsured, unemployed, and homeless women each year as well as providing free educational seminars, workshops, and health fairs to promote breast cancer awareness.
“It was a natural fit for me to join as a board member to give back to the underinsured and underserved to ensure they received quality breast care,” said Robertson.
One of the recent major initiatives at SBC has been to establish and operate a full service Mobile Breast Clinic to reach medically underserved Georgians who live in both urban and rural areas. It is in production and slated to be completed in January 2015.
“Operating as an all-inclusive screening and diagnostic unit, our mobile unit will target areas where the lack of transportation and resources are obstacles to adequate cancer detection and treatment,” Robertson said.
“Yara is so outstanding and I am proud of the role UTC played in her life!” said Bell.