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Don’t Let Cancer Win

Duke alumna, Ross Harris ’78, M.B.A.’80, and the decision to be a survivor

October 29, 2020 | by Angela Spivey

Don’t Let Cancer Win

In 1983, Duke University alumna Ross Harris had just lost her younger brother, Carlton Harris Jr., to leukemia. He was only 25.

She felt that she didn’t want to hear the word cancer ever again. “I was in so much pain, and I was so angry that cancer had taken him,” she says.

Five years passed as Harris, who had earned an undergraduate degree (1978) and MBA (1980) from Duke, worked in advertising for the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago, rising to the rank of vice president.

Then she decided to come back to North Carolina. She had spent her career crafting messages that sold products for the likes of Pillsbury, Green Giant, and McDonalds. As she returned to her home state, she sold herself on the idea of turning her terrible loss into a new way of looking at life.

She rebranded herself as a survivor.

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About the author

Angela Spivey Senior Writer/Producer, Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs

Angela Spivey can be contacted via email or by phone at 919-593-5892.

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