Raab Brings Cancer Care Home to ECU Med School
By Doug Boyd
Her parents pioneered advanced cancer care in eastern North Carolina, and now Dr. Rachel Raab has come home to continue the tradition.
Raab is one of the newest faculty members in the division of hematology/oncology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. She’s following in the footsteps of her parents, Drs. Spencer and Mary Raab, who started the division at ECU’s new medical school in 1977.
Raab, her husband, Dr. Francois Archambault, an anesthesiologist, and their 16-month-old son, Julien, arrived in August after Raab completed a cancer fellowship in New York.
“It’s going well so far,” Raab said recently during a break between clinics. “It’s been a good transition and I’ve gotten a lot of support from the people in my department.”
Dr. Rachel Raab
Raab has an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and a medical degree from ECU. She completed residency and fellowship training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.
Like her mother, Raab specializes in breast cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of breast cancer among women in North Carolina is approximately 110 to 119 cases for every 100,000 women, with African-American women more likely to die from the disease than other women.
“Even though we’ve come a long way since my parents moved here in the 1970s, there’s still a lot to be done for patients in this area,” Raab said. The opportunity to sub-specialize in breast cancer helped draw her to ECU. She also said Greenville is a growing city with the chance to be the leader in cancer care for a large portion of the state. Cancer center leaders believe she can be part of that plan.
“For the region, this is a homecoming to a community that raised her and is proud to have her return,” said Dr. Adam Asch, associate director of ECU’s Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. “She brings to this job not only her experience as an oncologist, but she knows the region and cared enough to return with her husband.”
Her mother is revered by many of her patients, and a portrait of Raab’s father, who died of cancer in 1993, hangs in the cancer center. Raab teared up a bit as she remembered him.
“I really can’t even imagine what it was like in 1977,” she said. “I think they realized what the need was here for cancer services. They had a vision.”
Raab remembered how one or both of her parents would be on call practically all day every day all those years. When out with her mother, they would run into patients her mother had helped or their family members.
“They were so appreciative of everything she had done for them,” Raab said. “I felt like she was really having an impact on people’s lives.”
In the brief time that she’s been at ECU, Raab has already seen patients her mom treated and who remembered the compassionate care they received.
Her mother, though retired from the ECU faculty, still sees patients at a Tarboro clinic.
“I think there is a need for both their services here, and also I think Rachel can contribute significantly to the care of patients in this region, especially breast cancer patients,” Dr. Mary Raab said of her daughter and son-in-law. She said she tried to stay neutral in their decision about where to practice, but is thrilled they choose Greenville.
“I think her father – it would really warm his heart,” Raab said. “I feel like she’s really dedicated to the cause. I’m very proud of her.”