Harvey’s Back on Course to Serve His Community

A Legacy of Improving Carbondale

Helping others. People working together. Being a positive influence. Teaching values to southern Illinois’ young men and women. It’s these attributes that define the very soul of Harvey Welch. “We all have an obligation to share our talent with others. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

The retired Dean of Students and former Vice Chancellor at Southern Illinois University credits his philosophy and motivation to an individual who set him on this path. Welch never claimed to be the best athlete, but words from Centralia basketball Coach Trout would always resonate, “You can do it.” And in 1951, at a time when race relations was still an obstacle, Welch became the first black athlete to ever letter in basketball at SIUC.

From then on, his mission was to pass on the wisdom and confidence that Coach Trout gave him. Whether it be the military, SIU or the community service organizations such as the Carbondale Park District, Harvey simply says, “I will serve.”

Unfortunately in 2015, this dedication would be interrupted by a new obstacle…cancer.

Facing the Cancer Obstacle

A man who believes in preventative measures, Harvey was diligent on yearly medical check-ups and screenings with internal medicine physician, Dr. Kurt Martin. But in November, a routine prostate exam would reveal an abnormality. Further testing would be needed. Following a biopsy, a diagnosis of cancer was given by urologist, Dr. Srinivas Rajamahanty.

The next step was the SIH Cancer Institute, where Harvey came to admire a team of people who like him, come together to share a very important talent. He had the advantage of not just one physician, but a team of physicians who reviewed his case to plot out the best course of treatment.

For Harvey the news of cancer meant another obstacle to face head on. “I thought, ‘here is something we will have to treat,’” he said. His wife, Trish, on the other hand, needed more. “I went into management mode: What does this mean? What exactly were the results? Where are we headed with this?”

“For an active man like Harvey, the PSA (prostate specific antigen) was key in detecting his cancer,” said Dr. Michael Little, radiation oncologist at the SIH Cancer Institute. “He had an aggressive form, and because we caught it early, we were able to successfully treat it with a nine-week radiation regimen.”

After meeting Dr. Little “I felt confident. He was very positive, like he had things in control,” said Harvey. “And the navigator had all the information,” he added. “It was comforting to know there was someone who would respond to my questions.”

He underwent a total of 44 radiation treatments, all of which took place 15 minutes from his home, at the new SIH Cancer Institute. “I was very pleased. From the time you walk in the door, all of them treated me as a human being. I’m confident that the treatment I got, is on the level of what you can get in St. Louis, without the driving,” said Harvey.

Getting Back on Course

Those that know Harvey, the world is a better place with him in it. The cancer did not stop him from being a huge catalyst for the new Carbondale Splash Park. Nor did it keep him from 19th Annual Harvey Welch Scholarship golf scramble at Hickory Ridge in June.

In addition to being a driving force behind the Carbondale Park District, Harvey serves on many boards and committees: Police & Fire Commission, the Science Board, The Non-Bargaining Personnel Committee and the John A Logan Museum Board, just to name a few.

Making Southern Illinois Better: SIH Cancer Institute and Harvey Share a Common Goal

“I believe in coming together to take care of southern Illinois,” says Welch. “Respecting each other and learning from each other can be a real model for doing things.”

Echoing Harvey’s drive to serve, the SIH Cancer Institute personnel feel that same passion. They are here to see that people like Harvey are not halted by cancer. Southern Illinoisans have often faced obstacles when it comes to access to care. “I think many people think because we are in a smaller area, that you can’t get quality treatment. But I believe you can!”

When asked about sharing his cancer story, Harvey said with pride, “I will serve.”