I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Robina M. Smith, an Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, at St. Jude Heritage Group. I was riveted by her story and the decisions that she has made to be where she is today. Dr. Robina (as I like to call her) started her college experience as an Art Major. During one semester, she had the auspicious opportunity to meet a doctor and graduate of the medical illustration technique penned by Max Brödel, the creator and founder of the first Medical Illustration School at Johns Hopkins in the early 1900’s.
Dr. Robina’s career took a sharp turn. Dr. Robina, having a love of science and a gift for art saw the opportunity to combine her two talents and decided to become a medical illustrator herself. Next turn, while observing a surgery of which she was to sketch an illustration of, she was so fascinated by the surgery, her sketch was never completed. When asked by the instructor why her sketch was not completed, she replied “I was too busy.” Further queried, she said she was too busy observing the surgery to sketch the surgery. On a trip to a clinic where she observed a reception room filled with African American women waiting to be treated and no doctor who looked like them, she prayed and the Lord affirmed her choice. But there was another twist. About a month before Dr. Robina was to enter medical school, she was in a horrific automobile accident. Her car was run completely over by an 18 wheeler tractor-trailer. No one who saw the accident expected anyone to be alive. Her car was completely crushed. But God! There was one little pocket of space inside that completely crushed and demolished car, where the future Dr. Robina Smith was curled up! Angels had surrounded her because they knew the mission and purpose that had been laid out for her. She told the Lord, “I know why I was spared and I know what I am to do.” Hence the world has been blessed with this doctor who places God first, seeks His guidance and wisdom to save and restore women’s bodies and esteem that have been impacted by Breast Cancer.
Her years as a freelance Medical Illustrator and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon has given her an unusually broad base experience with which she can effectively communicate, diagnose and remedy a woman’s complex problem.
She currently is the only fellowship-trained Breast Surgeon at St Jude Medical Center and the Physician liaison to the Commission On Cancer from the American College of Surgeons. She holds membership positions on the American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Society of Breast Disease, Society of Black Academic Surgeons, Association of Woman Surgeons, Association of Black Women Physicians, Cambridge Whos Who and The Denise Roberts Breast Cancer Foundation. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Medical degree from MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine, Surgical residency from New York Methodist Hospital, and Breast fellowship from the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Robina founded Treasure Your Chest, Inc. a nonprofit organization that educates and brings awareness of the risks for Breast cancer and breast disease for African American women. If her plate wasn’t full enough, she still had room to be the co-director of the Women’s Health and Fitness Ministry at Antioch Church of Long Beach. Dr. Robina is full of God’s love and His compassion as I have been blessed to witness myself. She is a God-fearing woman with passion and compassion for helping and healing. Anyone being blessed with her presence can see and feel her love for the Lord and her love for helping women through their journey with Breast Cancer. Never too busy to educate, she is an accomplished speaker and presenter.