Last Updated: Feb 6, 2019
Raghava Reddy Levaka Veera, MD is a hematologist/oncologist with Geisinger. He is the recipient of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Everyday Hero Award for February 2019.
“You have to be an optimistic person to get into this field, but at the same time realistic,” says hematologist/oncologist Raghava Reddy Levaka, MD. In his role with Geisinger, where he’s been practicing since 2016, Dr. Levaka treats a variety of cancers ranging from head and neck to gastrointestinal.
He understands that a cancer diagnosis can be scary for any patient. When he discusses treatment options with patients, he works hard to give them a sense of control and ownership. “I talk about the bigger picture,” he says. Innovations in cancer treatment continue to advance, and, in some cases, cancer can be managed as a long-term, chronic condition that can be controlled with treatment.
Dr. Levaka was nominated for the Everyday Hero award by one of his patients, Carol Ferrell, who feels that the kindness and care he shows is exceptional. “He is by my side each and every step of the way,” she says, noting that he uses his knowledge of new and innovative technological advancements to help patients like her choose the right care plan.
His entire team deserves credit for the award, Dr. Levaka is quick to point out. “I accept this award on behalf of the whole team at Henry Cancer Center at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center,” he says.
When it comes to treating cancer, it’s important to take a multidisciplinary approach. “It’s not a one-man army,” Dr. Levaka says. Cancer can’t be treated successfully by a single physician – It involves an entire health care team working together with a patient.
Dr. Levaka regularly attends multidisciplinary conferences and clinics where many specialists – including medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, and others – work together to help create care plans for their patients. Another crucial part of his work is keeping up with the latest research and new treatment options. In the last few years alone, significant innovations such as immunotherapy have changed the way certain cancers are treated.
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His commitment to his field began early. “I was destined to become a doctor,” Dr. Levaka says, reflecting on his childhood in India. His mother had dreamed of becoming a physician herself, but financial and social issues at that time made it difficult for her to pursue that path.
While he was growing up, Dr. Levaka’s parents encouraged him to pursue a career in medicine. When it came time for him to apply to medical school, his father and mother were by his side to support him and help ensure he was prepared to succeed.
Dr. Levaka graduated from Kurnool Medical College in Andhra Pradesh, India. He then took the next step in his career as an internal medicine resident at Abington Memorial Hospital. At Abington, his first rotation as an elective was in oncology/hematology. He knew right away that a sub-specialty in hematology/oncology was the right choice for him.
Following his residency, he completed a fellowship with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Dr. Levaka considers himself fortunate to have had an opportunity to train with the cancer specialists there and emphasizes how instrumental they were in providing a strong foundation for him.
Family continues to play a significant role in Dr. Levaka’s life. He and his wife, a software engineer, have a two-year old son. As a physician, husband, and father, he takes pride in knowing that he has been able to make his parents’ dream for him a reality.