Harrison McKinion was diagnosed in December of 2011 with a rare form of childhood leukemia at the age of 10. During the early stages of Harrison's battle with cancer, few circumstances led to such a loss of hope than that which they experienced the day after Christmas. As a result of one of the drugs used during the early stages of his cancer treatment, Harrison suffered a stroke that led to the discovery that his cancer was chemo-resistant. Harrison's only real chance of survival was through a bone marrow transplant, for which he did not have a match. The light of hope for Harrison's recovery was growing ever dim.
Although these were very trying times for the McKinion family, there was some hopeful news that came at just the right time. St. Jude Children's Hospital made an incredible discovery six months prior to Harrison's diagnosis about the specific form of leukemia that he was battling. This discovery led to the creation of a new drug to target the cancer, but the drug was untested and posed unknown risks. Through much prayer and consideration, Harrison and his oncologist agreed that they would experiment with this new drug. Thankfully their risk paid off and the drug worked! And although Harrison would have to endure another three years of chemotherapy and targeted treatment, his cancer had been put into remission.
Unfortunately, after three years in remission, in the summer of 2016 Harrison's cancer returned in his brain. The peace that had started to set in on the McKinion family had been ripped away and hope was quickly growing dim once again. The doctors threw everything they could at his cancer, but harsh drugs and additional rounds of chemo were taking their toll on Harrison's body and they weren't sure how much more he could take. Organ failure and fungal infections left Harrison's body broken and defeated as he almost passed away more than once during the three months he was trapped in his hospital room. By the Spring of 2017, doctors began to realize that they could continue to keep Harrison's cancer in remission.
Thankfully God had other plans for Harrison as he was one of a few selected for a new cutting-edge treatment that had just become available and was in clinical trials. The new treatment was called Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) immunotherapy and was only available in a few select hospitals in the country. So during the summer of 2017 Harrison and his family relocated to Seattle Children's Hospital to enroll in this clinical trial and continue fighting his battle with cancer. Thankfully, and against all odds, the new treatment cleared Harrison of leukemia and has put him back in remission.