Dr. Donna-Marie E. Manasseh: As mighty as an oak

Photo by Steve Solomonson

Dr. Donna-Marie E. Manasseh is the director of breast surgery at the Maimonides Breast Cancer Center. She treats breast cancer, high-risk and benign breast disease.

She advocates educating women about breast health with a goal of early detection and a better chance to be cured.

With her family as an infant, Dr. Manasseh came to the U.S. from Jamaica but “spent every summer there until she was 10.”

“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” Dr. Manasseh’s dad told her when he dropped her off as an undergrad at Cornell University, putting an acorn in her hand. She says, “No matter what your background or where you came from, you have the potential to be as mighty as an oak tree.”

“This field actually chose me, I was originally planning to be a heart surgeon,” Dr. Manasseh says. During medical school at Harvard she worked with a cancer surgeon on rotation. “I was captivated by his interaction with the patients,” she says.

This specialty? Her future mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer during her surgical training; she found herself on both sides of the table–consultant and family member.

An ardent believer in “It takes a village,” she says, “My mother and father were my first leaders, both always teaching me to seek excellence but have humility.” She also credits other family, friends, and colleagues for continued support and “God who makes all things possible.”

Dr. Manasseh has been working in medicine for 10 years. Of her chosen specialty, she says, “From the moment I chose to be a breast surgeon, it has been a great honor and blessing to be a part of the journeys of these amazing women.”

More from Around NYC