The Pink Ladies Will See You Now

Giving cancer patients the best possible care is personal for Dr. Stacy Smith-Foley and Dr. Yara Robertson. Smith-Foley, who helped start The Breast Center at CARTI in 2019, specializes in breast imaging and is among the top breast cancer professionals in Arkansas. She was inspired to focus her career in this area when, during her medical school training, her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 81 and did not receive the most up-to-date care. Smith-Foley vowed her patients would.

Robertson, who specializes in surgical oncology, joined the staff at CARTI four years ago and is medical director of surgery. A cancer survivor herself, Robertson recognizes that breast cancer does not discriminate. In a rapidly changing field, she hopes to provide her patients with the best treatment available.

Outside of their busy work schedules, Robertson and Smith-Foley join forces to amplify their voices, launching social media channels dedicated to educating and advocating for women’s health, including their TikTok account “breastfriends4eva.” Soirée chatted with the duo to learn more about their relationship and their work in this critical field.

@breastfriends4eva Does a #cellphone cause breast cancer? #fyp #makeba #breasthealth #fyp ♬ Makeba – Jain

How did you two become friends?

YR: As a breast surgeon, you must work closely with and trust your breast radiologist. Dr. Smith-Foley approaches the care she provides to breast cancer patients much like I do. She is fun, thinks outside the box and has a wonderful disposition. It’s why she is such a great breast radiologist.

SSF: I immediately recognized Dr. Robertson’s passion for breast cancer patients when we met at her interview. There was a spark and a feeling that we would make a great team. Funny story: She told me, “I like you, but I’m not coming.” I knew she would change her mind, and the rest is history.

What inspired you to start using social media as an advocacy platform?

YR:< I really started using social media as a kidney cancer survivor when I was looking for support. It later segued into breast cancer advocacy. When I started at CARTI, Dr. Smith-Foley and I joined forces to educate women.

SSF: It’s increasingly apparent that patients seek medical information from social media. Dr. Robertson and I agree that there are a lot of myths and misinformation out there, and we want patients to have easy access to trusted breast health resources.

What common myths about women’s health we should be aware of?

YR: Some of the top myths I hear are that you can’t get breast cancer if you don’t have a family history. Other offenders are that sugar, breast size or underwire bras can determine or cause breast cancer. All are false.

SSF: Some women have been led to believe that mammograms cause breast cancer. This is not true. The dose of radiation from a mammogram is so low that the risk of developing breast cancer from yearly mammograms starting at age 40 over a lifetime is incalculable.

Credit: Jason Masters
Dr. Yara Robertson

What are the best things women can do to stay on top of their health?

YR: Women should know what’s normal for them and examine their breasts for any changes. They should notify their providers if something feels off or abnormal and always get their annual mammograms.

SSF: Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, reduce alcohol consumption, stop smoking — or don’t start in the first place — and receive regular health screenings, including yearly mammograms.

Do you have any advice for women trying to advocate for themselves in doctors’ offices?

YR: Get a second opinion if you’re not being heard.

SSF: I always tell my patients, “You know your body better than anyone else.” I recommend getting a second opinion if you feel like your doctor is not taking your concerns seriously. Dedicated breast imaging, such as a mammogram and/or an ultrasound, is necessary if a woman feels a lump in her breast.

Credit: Jason Masters
Dr. Stacy Smith-Foley

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force just recommended that women start screening for breast cancer at 40, as opposed to 50. How do you feel about the new guidelines?

YR: First, it’s important to note that these aren’t guidelines, they’re recommendations. The screening start date should always have been 40 for average-risk women. The USPSTF should have gone further and recommended annual mammograms. Women should know that insurance still pays for them to get mammograms every year.

SSF: I applaud the USPSTF’s recommendation to start screening mammograms at age 40 in average-risk women, which aligns with those of the Society of Breast Imaging and American College of Radiology, two organizations where I am an active participant. However, the “new” recommendations fall short in advocating for annual screening mammography or supplemental screening for women with dense breasts.

We’ve seen you highlight some health-related nonprofits on social media. Are there any specific ones you’d like to tell us more about?

YR: Dr. Smith-Foley and I are medical advisors for Learn Look Locate, which provides educational resources on breast cancer awareness, prevention and care. I also serve as an advisor for Not Putting on a Shirt, an advocacy organization for women who don’t want breast reconstruction, and as a board member for the Tigerlily Foundation, which offers support to young women ages 15-45 facing breast cancer.

SSF: Along with Learn Look Locate, I am a medical advisor for My Density Matters, an online platform that empowers patients to learn about their breast density and the recommended breast cancer screening guidelines.


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