Dr. Steven Trocha of the University Medical Group and the Multi-Disciplinary Clinic is making a difference in cancer care not only in the upstate of South Carolina, but the entire southeast of the US. He and his team of surgical oncologists of the University Medical Group (UMG) work with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists of the Multi-Disciplinary Clinic (MDC) to provide cutting edge and often radical treatment for cancer patients. Dr. Trocha received his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin and did his residency in Louisiana. However, at the John Wayne Cancer Institute of Santa Monica, California, he had specialized training not only in surgical oncology, but specifically melanoma and sarcoma.
Steven Trocha was recruited by the Greenville Hospital System along with several other doctors to launch the UMG. GHS is a teaching hospital and Dr. Trocha is on staff as Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery. Although time prohibits his teaching classes, he supervises students who are pre-med, medical, intern, and residency.
When asked what drew him to Greenville, SC away from California eleven years ago, he replied that Greenville is an international community in which both he and his wife felt that their family would have exposure to many cultures, yet in a fairly small city setting. The cost of living is still very low in SC, the countryside is beautiful, and Trocha says Southerners still have manners. Dr. Trocha and his wife Julienne Correa have three children. They are Collette, age 9, Emilo, age 14, and Nicolas, age 16. In his “spare” time he enjoys riding his motorcycle, fly fishing, and making jewelry. (He likes to make men’s cuff links.)
Steven Trocha chose the field of cancer to specialize in for several reasons. One, this field would allow him to have long-term doctor-patient relationships. This is often not the case when one practices general surgery. Oncology care is often a life-time need for many patients. This field also enabled him to be able to teach, which he loves. Thirdly, surgical oncology is often complex and in the field of cancer, a vast amount of research is taking place. Dr. Trocha has specialized in melanoma and sarcoma surgeries with sarcoma specifically holding the greatest challenge due to its rarity. Dr. Trocha enjoys working within the Greenville Hospital System in his contact with other professionals and other disciplines.
Dr. Trocha recently worked with Project Amazonas and the American Embassy on a humanitarian medical trip to the Amazon. While there for 2 weeks, he and his team, including his 16 year old son, lived on a houseboat, traveling from village to village, and administering basic medicine. He commented that the trip caused him to be more humble realizing how much we have in America in terms of medical treatment and standard of living.
Around 45% of Trocha’s surgeries are GI, pancreatic, or liver related. Another 45% is taken up with melanoma surgeries which he sees almost daily. The last 10% is allotted to sarcoma surgeries. Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer and does not follow the “norms” of carcinoma. Dr. Trocha says if he could change anything about the medical field it would be patient access to medical treatment. But, even more than that, he feels that all physicians should be more personable with their patients and show human characteristics.
He feels that doctors should take more time in actually thanking their patients for the privilege of taking care of them, rather than vice-versa. He even makes his own thank you cards and gives them to his patients.
In February of 2014, Dr. Trocha spent some time at Emory Medical Center learning a technique just perfected there for laparoscopic removal of lymph nodes. In March, Dr. Trocha became the first doctor in SC to successfully perform the procedure on a melanoma patient.
He also does a procedure called microwave ablation in addition to the often surgeries he performs.
Steven Trocha says that being a surgeon is the most amazing profession one can be in. The life changing experiences he has had can be summarized in his visits to hospice patients and his home visits. Yes, he occasionally makes house calls when his patients can’t get to him. He has found that these visits have had a profound effect on him personally and on his career.
But being a surgeon is not just a career for this doctor. It is his way of life. This writer has found nothing but care, concern, and compassion along with aggressive and sometimes radical surgical treatment from Dr. Trocha and his team. In the upstate of SC and the southeast, we are blessed to have such a team of doctors at the Greenville Hospital System. Dr. Steven Trocha, the UMG, the MDC – Making a Difference, Saving Lives in Greenville, SC.
~ to be continued with “Walk Through the Fire: The Journey Through Cancer.”