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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia man dedicated to helping strangers with cancer inspired one of them to do the same thing. Now he’s looking for 99 more “ambassadors.”
Jasmine Witherspoon and 4-year-old Maddie Reyes share a quiet but unmistakable bond.
“We help each other,” Jasmine said.
Jasmine is a regular companion as Maddie goes through cancer treatment at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
And Jasmine understands. The young mother of two was diagnosed with breast cancer in fall 2016. She had a double mastectomy, months of chemo and radiation.
Online, Jasmine found a non-profit called “Cancer Who?” Its founder is Al Harris.
“She just asked for help,” Al said.
Al started Cancer Who? about six years ago, giving up his free time to support cancer patients. We started following Al in 2016 as he joined patients at treatment, and let a teenage cancer patient shave his head.
Jasmine said Al Harris “wrote me back in like two days. Ever since then, he’s been there every step of the way.”
The story of Al Harris and Cancer Who? spread. But there was a downside.
“I just couldn’t support every family,” Al said. “So I just basically reached out” for help. More than eighty people answered the call to become “Cancer Who? Ambassadors.”
That includes Jasmine, who is now cancer-free.
“I said yes. That’s therapy for me,” Jasmine said. “It helps me to help someone else, because I know exactly what they’re going through.”
Jasmine was able to answer important questions from Maddie’s parents, said social worker Danielle Strauss, “side effects and Maddie losing her hair, and get real honest answers of something that Jaz had very recently gone through.”
Al now has six “Cancer Who? Ambassadors” spread out at four local children’s hospitals. He hopes it’s just the start, “that we can support more families that can hear this story and can be inspired.”
Al hopes to build a team of 100 ambassadors. He will start interviewing candidates in February.