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Meet Our Survivors: Harvey House

Music producer Harvey House says that music is all about connecting the best musicians with the best instruments. The same philosophy, he feels, hold true for cancer treatment – it’s connecting the best physicians with the best technology. And, it’s that mentality that led Harvey to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Proton Therapy Center when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007.

How Harvey found out he might have cancer was not in the conventional way – where the doctor calls and delivers the news. Instead, his life insurance agent told him when Harvey called to increase his coverage.

“He said, ‘We can’t increase your coverage until you talk to your doctor,’” Harvey recalls. “I didn’t understand why. The agent, who was a good friend of mine, told me that results from my recent PSA test showed elevated scores. I didn’t know what to think.”

Not knowing what the test scores meant, Harvey made an appointment with his family doctor, who referred him to a urologist. A biopsy confirmed that Harvey had prostate cancer. The urologist quickly dispelled Harvey’s fears by telling him that the disease was treatable and referred him to the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.

It was at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center that Harvey met associate professor of Radiation Oncology  and his treating physician, Andrew K. Lee, M.D., MPH, who said something to Harvey that really sunk in.

“When Dr. Lee told me that proton therapy wouldn’t affect my lifestyle, that was all I needed to hear to pursue treatment,” Harvey said.

“Because proton radiation treatment is so targeted, we are often able to spare healthy sensitive areas near the tumor, which leads to fewer short- and long-term side effects,” explained Dr. Lee. “This allows many of our patients to continue to live active lives, both during and after treatment. Harvey is a wonderful example of someone whose cancer or its treatment didn’t slow him down or stop him from doing the things he loved – then and now. It’s really gratifying to see him continue to do so well.”

In addition to his daily proton therapy treatments, Harvey also believes that music helped his mind and body heal. Music has been a part of Harvey’s life since he was a young boy. He spent years as a musician and now works as a music producer and has been a voting member for the Grammy’s ™ since 1977. This passion and his belief in its healing qualities is what drove Harvey to bring a boom box to the treatment room so that he and all the other prostate patients could listen to music during appointments.

For Harvey, coming to the Proton Therapy Center every day was a joy. He got to interact with other patients and found the staff to be kind and caring.

Today Harvey is cancer free and has become a strong advocate for African-American men to get prostate screenings. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men, and they are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, which are two reasons why Harvey feels it’s important to encourage screenings and early detection.

“Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer myself, I realize how important it is to get screened, especially for African-American men,” said Harvey. “With the increased risk we have, I encourage all African-American men to get their PSA scores checked regularly.”

According to MD Anderson, prostate cancer screening should begin at age 50 for most men, and at age 45 for African American men or men with a family history (father, brother, son) of prostate cancer.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center