CMU senior Chris Harris remembered for his optimism after losing fight with cancer
Even while fighting brain cancer, Central Michigan University senior Chris Harris, 22, made the most of his time.
Mount Pleasant senior Jim Pococke said Harris had a positive outlook on life and was destined to make others smile.
“Chris lived life to the fullest and was always a reminder to all of us that things aren’t as bad as they seem and there’s always a positive way of looking at things,” Pococke said. “He never wanted to talk about (his cancer) with people; he would rather have people laugh than worry about him.”
Harris, a Grand Rapids native, saw his condition worsen in February and died early on March 3 in hospice care.
“Honestly, I never thought there was going to be an end,” Pococke said. “Even in hospice, I just thought there was no way he would stop fighting. He would always say how he was the best at everything and would never admit that he would lose.”
Harris graduated from East Kentwood High School in 2009. He came to CMU to study communication disorders, and lived on the fifth floor of Troutman Hall with his roommate, Dale Gunner.
Gunner, a Blissfield senior, described his freshman year roommate as hilarious, positive and full of energy.
On the about section of his Facebook page, Harris wrote, “I’m just a young man from Grand Rapids, Mich. that takes his life day by day … I live by the statement of ‘don’t go through life, grow through life’.”
He suffered from numerous headaches his junior year and eventually saw a doctor to have them checked out. Even after being diagnosed with brain cancer that year, Gunner said Harris never allowed being sick to change him.
“He was positive that he was going to make it and retained the same positive attitude that anyone who came in contact with him knew him for life,” Gunner said.
After missing classes due to his condition, Harris left CMU in October 2011 and came back a year later for the 2012 fall semester.
He would visit during his time off and Pococke said you couldn’t tell he had cancer unless he told you; all you could see was his happiness.
“When he returned, Chris seemed to be in good health and, as always, good spirits,” Gunner said. “We never really focused on it, to keep his mind off of it, and just focused on having some good times as we did before the cancer came back.”
While back at school, Harris worked for Campus Dining as a cashier and made pizzas and subs.
His cancer came back during winter break and he was unable to return to CMU this spring.
Pococke said Harris was given six months or less to live when his cancer reappeared, yet he remained upbeat.
“The first time, they said he beat it, so there was no timeline,” Pococke said. “The second time, he was given six months or less, and that’s why his family had to resort to putting him in hospice. But during all this time he was so positive.”
Gunner said the last contact he had with Harris was on Feb. 28 when he heard his condition had worsened.
“I texted his phone telling him I was praying for him, and myself and so many others loved him dearly,” Gunner said. “His mom replied that she had read it to him.”
Shortly after, Harris was moved into hospice care where he died on March 3. His service was held in Kentwood Saturday.
"In reality, that cancer made him stronger,” Pococke said. “Even on social media, the closest thing he said (about) cancer was ‘don’t take anything in life for granted.’ He was a great friend and always made me laugh.”