Inspired by the Women in Her Life, a Breast Surgeon Finds Her Calling: At Work with Tracy-Ann Moo

MSK breast surgeon Tracy-Ann Moo

Tracy-Ann Moo's grandmother inspired her career as a breast surgeon.

The Power of Women

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor. I think it was probably because I grew up with my grandmother and she was always going to the doctor. I saw him as the person helping her. Just recently, my aunt had cancer and was treated at MSK. I was sitting in her room one day, just chatting with her, and she looked at me and said, “You know, ever since you were a little girl you wanted to take care of Grandma. You weren’t able to take care of her, but you were able to take care of me.”

I felt drawn to breast cancer because I really liked working with women. I was raised in a single-parent household. I’ve always had really strong female figures in my life. That translated to me connecting with women going through cancer. What I appreciate when I think about breast cancer is how far we’ve come in treating it. Outcomes are much better now than they were in the 1970s. Most women are going to be survivors. It shows the power of women getting together for a cause. You can see the field moving forward.

A Surgeon’s Story

MSK breast surgeon Tracy-Ann Moo

Dr. Moo in the operating room.

Going into surgery was a surprise to me. I originally wanted to be a geriatrician [a doctor who takes care of older people] because I related a lot of my wanting to be a doctor to my grandma. But I did my surgery rotation and I loved it. I loved the pace, I loved being in the operating room, and I loved seeing results immediately

I like to listen to music in the operating room. I’ve had a playlist for years, but I haven’t listened to it in awhile because I keep forgetting my iPhone connector. It’s an eclectic mix of music from around the world: old-school reggae, a little bit of Arabic music, some Spanish music, instrumental pieces. One of my favorites that I usually like to start with is a piano solo from the movie Amelie. It’s a nice thing for the patient to hear when she comes into the room.

Care for the Whole Person

I think MSK really gives the best cancer care. We have experts focused on every aspect of the disease: not just the surgery or medical oncology, but the psychological aspects, the physical aspects, and the family unit. It feels really comprehensive.

Alternate Ambition

If I weren’t a surgeon, I would be a photographer for National Geographic. I love traveling and taking photos when I’m traveling. My last trip was to Morocco. What I think about when I think about Morocco is the colors: the colors of the landscape, the pottery, and the fabrics.