Enjoying Life in the Lowcountry Helps This Breast Surgeon Explore New Possibilities at Home and at Work
September 2022 Issue
by Courtney McDermott
Photography by Paul Nurnberg
When board-certified and fellowship-trained breast surgeon Dr. Tara Grahovac was recruited to the Lowcountry to lead Beaufort Memorial’s new Breast Care & Surgery Program in Okatie, she jumped at the chance to relocate to the area where she and her family had spent years vacationing.
“It was very serendipitous,” she said. “We’ve always loved spending time here so when the opportunity presented itself, we decided to take the leap.”
For Tara and her husband, Erik, it was about building a new life in the Lowcountry with their two daughters, Sophia and Annie. Professionally, it was about something else.
“We moved here for the weather and the outdoors, but also for the opportunity to build something for our family and the community we now call home,” she said.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Tara grew up surrounded by her large extended family. When she was in middle school her mother entered the nursing profession. Like her mom, Tara had a knack for the sciences and was consistently drawn to them throughout her early education.
“It always clicked with me, and it always felt right, so I just kept moving forward,” she said. Her interest in and gift for the sciences propelled her into pre-med studies and, eventually, surgery.
A self-proclaimed sports fan, she loves football and especially her hometown Steelers. When she was in college, she was introduced to her husband, a college football player also from Pittsburgh, by a mutual friend who recognized their shared interests and fixed them up.
Following college, Tara earned a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, then completed a residency in general surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.
“Surgery was a natural fit for me, but my interest in breast surgery evolved over time,” she said.
Initially, she had other specialties in mind. Over time, however, she realized that breast surgery encompassed all of the things she loved most about medicine. So she went on to complete a fellowship in breast surgical oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Magee-Women’s Hospital.
“I really enjoy the artistic side of surgery and how rapidly it is progressing, and I am excited about all of the clinical trials that are becoming available to my patients,” she said.
But there’s something more that makes this specialty so personally and professionally fulfilling for her. “I just love the population that I serve and the fact that I am able to build long-term, meaningful relationships with my patients.”
Tara never considered a career other than medicine, but if she had to choose one, the HGTV enthusiast said she could see herself as an interior designer or a professional house flipper. She also has an interest in food and wine and would love to master the skill of pairing. “Sommeliers have such a unique and fun skill,” she said.
At the end of the day, her main focus remains on her husband and family, though she does indulge in some “me” time as a runner. “I used to do 5 and 10ks with my dad, and I ran the Cincinnati half-marathon, but these days I am more of a leisure runner,” she said.
She and her beach-loving husband are also pursuing the growing and ever-popular sport of pickleball. “When we can’t get to the beach, or spend time on the water, we’re trying to pick up pickleball by watching YouTube videos,” she joked.
Still, her day job keeps her very busy and, most importantly, excited. “There are so many great resources available here, and I’m looking forward to tying them together to give patients with breast health concerns and breast cancer the most thorough and customized care possible.”
She is particularly enthusiastic about the collaboration with other cancer care providers in the region. Through Beaufort Memorial’s affiliation with the National Cancer Institute-designated cancer program at MUSC Health, her patients have access to subspecialists experienced in treating rare or complex cancers and are able to participate in clinical trials of promising new cancer drugs and treatments.
“The response to the program has been incredible,” Tara said. “I have started seeing patients and so many of them have voiced that they are thrilled to have these specialized services right here in our community.”
Dr. Tara Grahovac is a board-certified and fellowship-trained breast surgeon. A member of the MUSC medical staff, she practices with the Beaufort Memorial Breast Care & Surgery Program at the Okatie Medical Pavilion in Okatie. Visit BeaufortMemorial.org/TaraGrahovacMD to learn more.
Hometown: Pittsburgh (and yes, she’s a Steelers fan, one of many interests she shares with her husband, Erik).
Occupation: Breast surgical oncologist (commonly referred to as a “breast surgeon”).
Extended family: In addition to daughters Sophia and Annie, she considers Ginger, a Hungarian Pointer, to be her “baby.”
Undergraduate School: Ohio University (B.S. in biology).
A skill she’d like to master: Wine pairing.
A skill she’s currently attempting to master: Pickleball.