Your health and the Breast Surgery team at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center
Like many with busy careers, LaNette Smith, MD, and her husband Tracy Smith, MD, take time to regenerate on weekends. That may include a leisurely lunch on the patio of their Prescott-area home and walks with their dogs—Maggie, a 95-pound Anatolian Shepherd, and 65-pound Olaf, a Berger Picardin.
“It’s the little things that make life so much better,” said Dr. Smith, who moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2021 to join Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Group (YRMG). A fellowship-trained breast surgeon with more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Smith cares for patients at YRMG, Breast Surgery in Prescott Valley. Her husband is an internist with YRMG, Internal Medicine in Prescott. Both appreciate the relaxed Prescott lifestyle, especially the people of the community.
“When we first moved here, we didn’t know anyone, didn’t have any support,” Dr. Smith recalled. “We were concerned about our dogs, because they were used to having someone check on them while we were at work.”
Neighbors quickly volunteered to visit the Smiths’ four-legged family on workdays. Even better, those neighbors have become close friends who Dr. Smith described as family.
“We’ve found that the concept of caring for and loving your neighbor is common to the people of Prescott,” she said.
That same concept thrives at YRMG, Breast Surgery. Every team member is committed to caring for the whole person—body, mind and spirit. Central to this holistic approach are customized patient care plans that feature state-of-the-art surgical services. Care plans may include a lumpectomy, mastectomy, nipple-sparing mastectomy, oncoplastic surgery or other advanced procedures as well as immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or anti-estrogen medication.
Timing is Everything
“Knowing which treatment is appropriate for each person and in what order is an important aspect of caring for people with breast cancer,” Dr. Smith explained. “This is called sequencing. It can be understandably confusing to someone whose immediate reaction after a breast cancer diagnosis is to have the breast surgically removed.”
Dr. Smith noted that certain types of breast cancer respond better to chemotherapy or hormone therapy before surgery. Others achieve better results with a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy.
Sequencing requires detailed diagnostics: history and physical, genetic tests, imaging studies, and tests that identify the type of breast cancer—ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma and in situ (isolated) or invasive. Most of all, sequencing requires the knowledge, experience, and empathy that Dr. Smith pours into the care she provides patients.
“These are very detailed conversations,” she noted. “I help patients understand the pros and cons of each choice and explore the path that’s best for them. It’s not a decision a physician makes for a patient. It’s a decision patients make with the educated information and caring support provided by their physician.”
Sedona resident Mechelle Saravo has received this kind of support as a patient at YRMG, Breast Surgey.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better person to treat me,” Mechelle said. “Dr. Smith was invested in me and my healthcare. She made me aware of all of my options. I felt empowered to make the right choice.”
It Takes a Team
Behind every patient care plan is a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists–including Dr. Smith–who collaborate through the Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) Tumor Board. The Tumor Board meets regularly to discuss the treatment course of specific patients.
“In this day and age,” said Dr. Smith, “the multidisciplinary input of the Tumor Board is essential to effective cancer treatment.”
At YRMG, Breast Surgery, Dr. Smith leads a team of experienced and compassionate healthcare practitioners and other professionals, some whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. The Breast Surgery team includes:
- Charlotte Chandler, Medical Assistant
- Paige Curry, Practice Manager
- Lorraine Guzzo, Medical Receptionist
- Heather Haga, Medical Assistant
- Ruth Hughes, RN, Breast Surgery Oncology Nurse
- Merrie Thompson, Surgery Scheduler
While their roles vary, every YRMG, Breast Surgery team member is involved in supporting patients’ needs—physical, emotional and spiritual.
“Breast cancer is like a glaring sun in your life,” said Ruth Hughes, RN, YRMG, Breast Surgery. “It encompasses everything. We’re here to remind our patients that they are more than a diagnosis.”
But when patients remind each other of that, it’s especially gratifying to the Breast Surgery team. That’s what Medical Receptionist, Lorraine Guzzo and Surgery Scheduler Merrie Thompson witnessed on a recent day in the Breast Surgery reception area. The encounter included three patients: two who had undergone breast cancer treatment and a first-time patient.
“The new patient was very frightened. She was visibly shaking as she was completing her paperwork,” recalled Lorraine.
The other two patients saw this. They began discussing their experiences with the YRMG, Breast Surgery staff and reassuring the woman that she was in the best place for her care.
“None of these women knew each other,” Merrie says. “But they were passing on the love and support they had received as our patients.”
The Whole Story
As one might expect, when it comes to maintaining breast health, Dr. Smith looks at the big picture.
“You’re a whole person,” she said. “Your body doesn’t function in isolation. For example, the same things that typically lower your risk for cardiovascular disease–exercise, not smoking, consuming a healthy diet and maintaining an ideal body weight–also decrease your risk of breast cancer.”
For more information about YRMG, Breast Surgery, visit https://DignityHealth.org/YRMG. To schedule an appointment, speak to your physician or call 928.442.8740.