Head for the Cure exists to inspire hope within the brain cancer community while performing to increase vital clincial research. As our local beneficiary and member of the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative (BTTC), the Medical Universiy of South Carolina greatly contributes to that mission. We would like to shine a light on some of those wonderful individuals and get to know them a little better. Enjoy!
What are your hobbies?
Dr. Cachia: Usually not much time for hobbies but when I do have time, I like to read (non medical fiction books), gardening, and collecting stamps
Do you have a favorite novel?
Lord of the Rings ( Dracula and Game of Thrones are a close second)
Is there a quote that inspires you?
‘”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.” – Winston Churchill:
What is the most gratifying part of being a physician?
Making the patient feel better. This does not always necessarily mean physically better but also emotionally and spiritually at peace.
What made you want to become a doctor?
This is going to sound like a cliché, but it was the idea of being able to help people when they are must vulnerable. Sickness doesn’t look at your bank account, your social status, etc. In those moments, being there to guide and direct people along a path that appears scary and full of unknowns with the goal of making them better was what attracted me to medicine (Many years ago!)
How did you decide to specialize in neuro-oncology?
When I was doing my neurology residency at the University of Massachusetts, I started thinking about what fellowship I would be interested in doing. What I liked about neuro oncology was the fact that unlike other medical specialities you still had that patient/patient family-doctor interaction that to me is an essential part of being a doctor. It was also an area where a lot of research is currently going on which I was interested in learning more about. Being an oncologist might not always lead to the patient getting cured but it is about accompanying the patient and their family along a journey that can be tortuous road and have ups and downs. I wanted to take part in that journey.
What is the most promising clinical trial?
There is currently a lot of excitement about the use of immunotherapy in oncology in general but also in neuro oncology. The premise is that cancer cells are able to evade the natural body defense (immune system). So why not use drugs to alert the immune system that the cancer cells should not be there in the first plan and get the body to destroy these cells? Trials using a number of immunotherapy drugs, viral based therapies are currently underway to determine whether this approach will be successful. Preliminary data look promising
Where do you see brain cancer treatment in 10 years?
The field is rapidly advancing in our understanding of these tumors. When one looks how much we have learned about these tumors over the past 10 years, one cannot but be optimistic about what lies ahead. We have a better understanding why prior treatments have not worked that will allow us to correct our mistakes. Besides, every day we are learning more about the molecular biology of these tumors and how they operate at a cellular level. Only this level of detailed understanding will allow us to disrupt the process that leads to cancer growth