Don't Let Cancer Win

Duke University alumnus Ross Harris
Duke University alumna Ross Harris and her beloved dog Henry. Photo by Chris Hildreth/Rooster Media.

After her younger brother died of leukemia at the young age of 25, Duke University alumna Ross Harris took five years to sit with the pain and the anger she felt.

Then, she says, she decided to become a survivor.

As she moved back to North Carolina from Chicago, where she had a successful career in advertising, Harris, who received a bachelor's from Duke in 1978 and a MBA in 1980, decided to begin serving on the board of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center (now Duke Cancer Institute) and the board of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.

“The more I understood and learned about cancer, the more the anger went away,” she says. “I felt like I could put my arms around cancer and say ‘Okay, I’m not going to run away. I won’t let you do this to anyone else, and I will no longer allow you to have power over me,’” says Harris, a former member of the Duke University Board of Trustees.

“The challenge isn’t insurmountable. It really isn’t,” Harris says. “We can’t let cancer win. And the only way we can be sure that it doesn’t is through research.”

planned giving Harris says it was a simple decision to make an estate gift benefiting Duke Cancer Institute, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain  Tumor Center, and Duke University.

“We have absolutely no idea what is going to happen to us tomorrow,” Harris says. “I wanted to be deliberate about where I want my assets to go. And Duke makes it easy.”

“Planned giving is doing something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s thinking about what it is that you want to accomplish and making sure that happens. It’s a way to create your legacy.”