PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Al Harris is passionate about helping others.
“I feel like it’s my God-given talent,” he says, “to be able to sit there and listen.”
Harris is founder of Cancer Who?, an organization that helps families bear the burden that comes with a cancer diagnosis. He found his purpose when three members of his family were all battling cancer at the same time. While Harris supported his loved ones, he notices many were not as fortunate.
“I used to walk in the hospitals,” he says, “and I’d see people by themselves.”
Harris believes emotional support is key to healing.
“It’s a form of medicine,” he says.
So Harris began supporting others in their fight. Pretty soon, he got so busy he had to make a decision.
“When I had a full-time job,” he says, “I’d be at doctor’s appointment or chemo and have to leave– and knowing that they would be alone would wear on me.”
So he and his wife decided that Al should follow his passion. His organization, “Team Overtime,” morphed into Cancer Who? where volunteers worked to be more than just cancer patient advocates, but also family.
“If you can’t take them to chemo, we can,” says Harris, “if you can’t take them to radiation and stay the whole time, we can, but we are also there for the good times, the cookouts and the parties.”
Harris funds his efforts by selling colorful apparel with the Cancer Who? logo.
“I would be in hospitals and people would ask for he gear,” he says. “It started selling.”
He says it pays for the parking, the stuff animals, gifts and events Cancer Who? puts on. Al says his life isn’t about money, but about making others feel happy and supported.
“I could care less about a dollar,” he says. “It’s those times when we are all together laughing and smiling that’s what it’s about.”
Harris hopes to grow Cancer Who? into a national organization, with its headquarters grounded in Philadelphia. One of his immediate goals is to hold a Cancer Who? walk, so people can come together and celebrate the support the healing. Congratulations Al, you’re changing the game, one patient at a time.