Since July 2020, Joshua Hess, M.D., has served as a pediatric oncologist and hematologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center (ECCC) at Cabell Huntington Hospital. As a West Virginia native, Dr. Hess said one of the most satisfying aspects of his job is knowing he’s been able to give back to his home state.
“I’ve lived in West Virginia for a majority of my life. The people here are special to me, and our pediatric patients are especially so. It feels good to know that although I may have left for a little bit, I came back to do something positive for my state and those who live here.”
When Dr. Hess left, it was for good reason. That reason centered on providing the very best cancer care possible for our region’s youngest patients.
“From 2017 to 2020, I left home to complete my clinical fellowship in pediatric hematology and oncology at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. When most people think of St. Jude, they think of a premiere institution for treating pediatric cancers. During my time there, I was able to train and work with many of the world’s experts in multiple pediatric cancer types.”
Families served by the ECCC continue to benefit from Dr. Hess’s training at St. Jude .
“There are roughly 10-15,000 children diagnosed per year with pediatric cancers. While this is exceedingly rare when you consider new adult cancer diagnoses are nearing two million per year, I am a firm believer that ‘no child should die in the dawn of life’,” Dr. Hess said. “In Memphis, I was afforded the opportunity to not only care for patients from around the world but to also see some of the rarest of those rare pediatric cancers. In this field of work, there are still conditions and diagnoses that many doctors have not encountered. In those unusual instances where our patients' situations require more resources, being able to reach out to my former colleagues and mentors at St. Jude is an invaluable resource.”
Dr. Hess said he wants to raise awareness about the quality of care provided at ECCC because many in the Tri-State don’t realize the breadth of services available close to home.
“I hope our patients and their families have some reassurance in knowing their child’s cancer doctor has received training from a world-class facility like St. Jude. Even though we are a smaller facility, we are very capable of treating a vast majority of pediatric cancers as the frontline therapy is the same here as it is in other places,” he said.
As Dr. Hess looks to the future, he said he hopes more cancer patients will take advantage of the advanced medicine options offered right here in Huntington, West Virginia. He said his team’s approach to patient care makes all the difference.
“I hope patients, and their families, feel I’m approachable and easy to talk with. Being a small clinic, we get to know folks pretty well. We try to treat everyone like family and, like an extended family, many of our patients get to know, and support, each other through the stresses of therapy as well,” Dr. Hess noted. “I hope our program continues to grow, and that we continue to work toward reducing some of the health care burden on local families having to go through cancer treatment. It’s incredibly stressful, and expensive at times, so anything we can do to reduce that burden is appreciated. Ultimately, we just want West Virginians and those in the Tri-State to realize that they don’t have to drive hours away to a larger cancer center to receive many of the same treatments available here.”
In addition to his role at the ECCC, Dr. Hess serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Oncology and Career Advisory Dean at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Dr. Hess currently resides in Winfield with his wife of 20 years and their two children.
Favorite Movie: "The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit based on the fantasy series by J.R.R. Tolkien."
Favorite Song/Band: "Panic at the Disco, AJR, Def Leppard, and I'm a big fan of 90's country. Gotta love Garth Brooks!"
Favorite Book: "The Harry Potter books."
Favorite Hobby: "I love playing video games with my son and spending time with my family and kids."