Cancer Who? Provides Support for Cancer Patients so They're Not Alone
Turning pain into support, care and love is what Al Harris did when he founded Cancer Who? in West Philadelphia. After experiencing cancer through different family members, Harris saw that while he was visiting his family members during their chemo and treatments, other patients were there alone.
Harris immediately went to do research to see if there were any organizations that were supporting cancer patients from an emotional side. Cancer takes a huge toll on someone’s mental health, which is why Harris says it’s important for cancer patients to have someone there for emotional support.
“I saw that there was a gap in support,” said Harris. “I figured I’d start my own [organization].”
With a background in caregiving, since 2013, Harris has been providing free support and resources to cancer patients, such as being there with patients for doctor’s visits through his non profit Cancer Who?. Just recently, this year Cancer Who? opened its first center located at 3400 Richmond St. where all services are free.
At Cancer Who?’s center, cancer patients, family and friends can come in to be surrounded by others who understand their circumstances. People are greeted like they’re at home, he said. Harris said even though they support cancer patients, cancer is hardly ever the topic of conversation.
“We focus on everything but cancer.” said Harris. “Everything around it.”
According to Harris, a lot of people like to come in and talk to Harris and his Cancer Who? crew because there’s no judgement. Families even have the chance to talk to one another about their experiences.
With the new center, Harris is able to provide more free support in-house. Cancer Who? has multiple programs such as their survivor circle—a group of survivors who talk about different things they’ve went through, which isn’t always cancer related.
“We’re more so like that in between,” he said. “We have somewhere you can come that’s not the hospital. “
Everything apart of Cancer Who? is free, plus they don’t even ask for insurance cards.
Thanks to social media, 90 percent of the center’s funding was paid for. Eventually, Harris wants a Cancer Who? center in every state because he knows this type of support is needed.
Currently, Harris is a finalist in the Be Well Philly Health Hero 2019 Challenge, where he’s competing to win $15,000 for Cancer Who?. To vote for Al Harris, click here. One vote a day is allowed until Oct. 1, 2019.