PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia man who befriended a teenager with cancer wanted to fulfill a promise to him. You could say, he put his head in his hands.
In late September, 16-year-old Nasir Blakey got a lesson on how to cut hair. Philadelphia barber P. Michael was his tutor.
“He’s my student for the day,” P. Michael said. “He’s my little protégé.”
Al Harris was ready to be Nasir’s first haircut.
Al told Nasir, “Your mom said, your mom said, ‘You’re crazy.'”
But Al didn’t mind. Al is founder of a non-profit support group with a sassy question for a name: Cancer Who?
When Nasir was diagnosed in February 2-16 with an abdominal cancer, desmoplastic small-cell cancer, Al started joining him for treatments and outings. Their brotherhood blossomed.
“There’s just a constant smile all the time, and that’s rare when he’s going through what he’s going through,” Al said.
Al was there in September when Mastery Charter High School Pickett campus welcomed Nasir back to class, as his mom, Lakisha Blakey, watched.
“It’s wonderful. We have a great support system, and I love the school for helping me through everything since day one,” Lakisha said.
Tears rolled down Nasir’s cheeks as he described his friendship with Al. “Never really had a dad in my life,” Nasir said. “Basically, he’s like, it.”
Now, Nasir’s cancer has spread. He needs radiation to his skull, and he will lose his hair, so Al is fulfilling a promise to let Nasir shave his head.
“Don’t move!” Nasir joked to Al.
“Hopefully he can hold the clippers!” Al laughed.
Under P. Michael’s watchful eye, Nasir went to work, slowly shaving all the hair off Al’s head. Al said, “However it goes, it’s keeping a smile on his face, so it’s alright with me.”
A few days later, Nasir returned for his own head shaving, courtesy of P. Michael. Once again, Al was there, and they posed as brothers in baldness.
“As long as he’s happy with it, I’m happy with it,” Al said. “I’m cool.”
You can find out more about Cancer Who? on its website, http://cancerwho.org/