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As a retired surgeon, Stephen Harkavy understood the importance of having an annual physical, including a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test to indicate his risk of prostate cancer. In fall 2008, at the age of 65, Stephen began to experience frequent urination, a common symptom of prostate cancer. While he was not concerned with his PSA levels, he did note the velocity at which his levels were climbing. He met with his local urologist, who ordered a biopsy.
“When I learned I had prostate cancer, there was no question as to where I was going – to see Dr. Richard Greenberg, who is the Chief of Urologic Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. He specializes in treating patients with prostate cancer so I knew I’d be in the best hands,” said Stephen.
"I thought Dr. Greenberg was outstanding."
Stephen was particularly impressed with Dr. Greenberg’s compassion, concern, and thoroughness in explaining his suggested treatment. “I thought Dr. Greenberg was outstanding,” Stephen added. “No question was left unanswered during my consultation with him.”
The timing of Stephen’s diagnosis was a bit challenging for his family. “My wife, Carol, and I were about to leave for a family vacation with our children and grandchildren. It was something we looked forward to for a long time,” shared Stephen. They asked Dr. Greenberg if they should reschedule the vacation. He told them to go and enjoy themselves. His treatment would not be affected by waiting a few more weeks.
"A cancer diagnosis puts everything in perspective. I treasured the time I spent with my family."
Stephen took the vacation and enjoyed every minute. “A cancer diagnosis puts everything in perspective. I treasured the time I spent with my family on that trip.”
The Harkavys returned home and proceeded with his treatment plan. The night before surgery, Dr. Greenberg personally called Stephen to answer any questions he had. He also spoke to Carol in order to assuage some of the concerns she had about the surgery. On January 8, 2009, Dr. Greenberg performed a minimally invasive radical prostatectomy on Stephen using the robotic-assisted daVinci® method.
“Dr. Greenberg’s superb skills led to an exceptional result in regard to both urinary and sexual function,” explained Stephen, who appreciated Dr. Greenberg’s attention to detail in removing all of the margins of the cancer while preserving as many nerves as possible. “His concern for me as a patient in taking as much time as he felt was necessary rather than completing the surgery in a hurried manner all contributed to the fine result I am happy to report to date. I cannot praise Dr. Greenberg enough for his professionalism, knowledge, and surgical skills. In addition, the entire Fox Chase community was extremely helpful during my stay, as well as in assisting with pre- and post-operative care.”
When Stephen isn’t spending time with his family, he goes to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) to exercise. “I’ve always been in such great shape. Everyone was shocked when I was diagnosed with cancer,” he admitted. “But when anyone asks me where to go when they have cancer, it is without reservation that I recommend Fox Chase Cancer Center in general and Dr. Richard Greenberg in particular for anyone requiring urologic cancer surgery.”