Geisinger Physician Wins Statewide ‘Everyday Hero’ Award

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A state medical society was in the area on Tuesday to present a special honor to a doctor at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre.

The woman who nominated him for the award, one of the doctor's patients, was also there.

Dr. Raghava Levaka, from Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center's Henry Cancer Center, got a call out of the blue from the Pennsylvania Medical Society telling him he was a winner. The board chose him to receive the Everyday Hero award.

"I was pleasantly surprised! I was pleasantly surprised," said Dr. Levaka.

"So often, the focus is on the negative in the community and what we wanted to do was help our members go back to their art of medicine, their reason for practicing, and be reminded and awarded for working to go above and beyond," said Janet Thompson, Medical Society membership liaison.

Thompson says often it's a hospital system or fellow doctor that nominates one of their own. In this case, the nod came from someone more unexpected and far more meaningful.

Carol Ferrell, from Dushore, says she's 39 years old and we're going with it. After rapid weight loss and some back pain, Carol went to the hospital in August of 2016 and scans confirmed something far more serious than she expected: Stage 4 lung cancer. Since then, she's been successfully treated with chemotherapy in Dr. Levaka's care.

"It seems to be working. We'll just take it from there. Every day is a special day, I guess you could say," Carol said.

Carol says she nominated him because he never once focused on the potential bad outcome.

Dr. Levaka likes to say he won't give a patient false hope but stresses there's room for optimism within the realism.

"This is Stage 4. It may not be curable, but it can be controllable, can be treatable," said Dr. Levaka. "You need to have the attitude of fighting the cancer, living with the cancer, rather than thinking about dying with cancer."

And that's exactly what Carol intends to do.

"He got to be more of a personal friend than just a doctor," Carol said. "He believes beyond the standard treatment of cancer."

The Pennsylvania Medical Society is a physician-led organization that works to advocate for and educate doctors throughout the state.

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