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Marie Catherine Lee, MD, FACS

Breast Cancer Surgeon

"I tell patients this is something they have control over and can use it to strengthen themselves."

For Dr. Lee becoming a breast cancer surgeon at Moffitt Cancer Center was a combination of fate and serendipity.

As a child, there was no question Dr. Lee would become a doctor. Both her parents are doctors, as are several aunts and uncles.

“I had to go to medical school,” Dr. Lee says with a laugh. “It was not a bad thing because I love what I do.”

It was serendipity that brought her to Moffitt, she says. After passing on a fellowship opportunity at Moffitt to be closer to her husband’s home state of Michigan, she vowed to return to Tampa and Moffitt one day.

“I love doing my job with the community where I practice,” says Dr. Lee. “I think that is a very unique situation.”

In another personal and practical sense, she relishes being part of a team approach that collaborates to devise an individualized treatment plan for each patient.

As treatment options continue to evolve, the multispecialty team in the breast cancer clinic is pursuing more personalized care and less invasive surgery, she says.

“We want to see patients move back to a regular life and hopefully not have that life disrupted by the care that we're giving them to treat the cancer,” says Dr. Lee.

Although Dr. Lee realizes many of the newly diagnosed patients who come to see her are scared and anxious, she reassures them they will find their “new normal.”

“I think that one of my primary goals in seeing a new breast cancer patient is to give them a plan and hopefully allay some of those fears and give them some comfort,” says Dr. Lee.

She recalls a patient, now in remission, who recently returned for her five-year checkup after battling breast cancer, in addition to other medical issues.

Through hugs, the patient asked if Dr. Lee ever thought she would have achieved this milestone when they first met.

Dr. Lee never had a doubt. “I said, ‘yes, one hundred percent.’”