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Talks with Docs: Samuel Cheshier, Pediatric Neurosurgeon

photo of Samuel Cheshier, MD, PhD, brain tumor physician and researcher

Video transcript

I think it’s also always very important to thank the parents for trusting their kids with me.

My name is Samuel Cheshier. I am an associate professor in neurosurgery. I specialize in pediatric neurosurgery, and within that I sub-specialize in brain tumor surgery. At Primary Children’s Hospital, I’m the director of surgical neuro-oncology.

What sparked your interest in neurosurgery?

Once I was a medical student [and] I finally got to do real rotations of neurosurgery, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed how heavily the images are used in surgery. I mean, we often will stop our surgeries just to look at the images to figure out what’s going on or what to do next. The technology within the neurosurgical OR suite is amazing. I mean, we have light sabers and they work just like the light sabers in Star Wars, pretty much. We have ultrasound, we have just, just the gadgets are just amazing. And also, I really like the patients and the families. I just love taking care of them, helping make them better.

What have you learned from your patients?

I’ve learned from my patients that people are inherently good. I deal with a lot of families with their children and that everybody wants the best for their children and I learned that it takes a lot to trust a total stranger with your child. And the ability of these of the people to go through this with such strength and dignity, it makes me respect people a lot more.

Overall, honesty is the most important thing, but also giving them hope when it’s there. And speaking to them in a language that they understand. I think physicians in general, and neurosurgeons specifically, can be incredibly technical.

How do you enjoy your days off?

For fun I like hanging out with my family. I have three children—14, 8, and now 11 months old yesterday. We didn’t plan on having kids, but we came to Utah and we had another kid—so, unplanned but not unwanted.

I do a lot of what I call random reading. I will pick a subject at random and I will try to learn as much as I humanly can about it. One time I spent three months learning about Mayan history. Another time I did the Bronze Age, and last month I figured out exactly how a TV works. I was like, "Oh, that’s how it does."

What can patients expect at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

It has everything in one place, and it’s not small. It’s not a tiny place. It’s a vast and giant facility. It encompasses research, it encompasses clinical care, it encompasses epidemiological studies and infrastructure, and it encompasses clinical trials. There’s even operating rooms here in Huntsman Cancer Institute, with MRIs in them specifically for neurosurgery cases. So it’s a wonderful place to be.

It serves a lot of people. You know, we’re the only major cancer center for 10 million people population. And I don’t think there’s any cancer centers in the United States that serves that many people as well as the geographic area. The people here are all world class. And every single specialty, in every single field—both within cancer research as well as within cancer clinical care.

You know, when you’ve come to Huntsman Cancer Institute, you’ve come to the best. The people here are all world experts. They’re all excellent at what they do, and we will take good care of you and your family and your children.