Latest on Harrison

Steve McKinionUncategorized36 Comments

This has been a week even worse than that following Harrison’s diagnosis with leukemia. I’ve been too emotionally bankrupt to even think about the events of the week, but I did want to give the latest so that you might continue to pray in an informed manner for our “little man.”

On Monday, the day following Christmas, Harrison was having a great day, one of his best. He went to Target with Ginger for a quick trip, then came home and went in the back yard with Lachlan, who was burning the paper and boxes from Christmas. Harrison had a great idea–make s’mores–so he called Ginger and asked her to bring the stuff to make them. It was wonderful. We easily forgot he has cancer.


In the early afternoon all three kids were in the basement playing a new game for the Wii that Harrison got from his grandparents for Christmas. Suddenly, Harrison and Blakely came up the steps with Harrison complaining of seeing spots and a “spinning fan.” We laid him on the couch and Ginger called the oncologist. While she was on the phone Harrison felt like he was going to throw up, so I took him to the bathroom. I came out to get things together to go the hospital and when I returned he was unresponsive. I began asking him questions and trying to get him to talk. After a few moments he tried to answer my questions, but was slurring his words. I told Ginger he’d had a stroke. My heart nearly stopped.

The oncologist said to bring him to UNC, but once on the road Harrison’s head was jerked to the left and he wouldn’t even try to answer questions. He was completely unresponsive.

We stopped at the nearest ER, and I carried him inside. Once inside he began having seizures. They gave him some medicine and took him back for a CT.

When the doctor returned he asked us to join him in the family room. I knew this would not be good news.

He told us Harrison had had a stroke, there was a clot in a major vein, and there were five spots on bleeding deep in the brain. I asked what that meant, and he simply replied, “It’s not good. We’re sending him to UNC and they can tell you more.” We thought it was over.

Fast forwarding, Harrison is still here on Saturday. At some time I’ll be able to write about the details of this week, but in a nutshell, there are two blood clots in his brain, and some serious bleeding. This is a result of one of the chemo meds administered in the first week of his treatment. Thickening of the blood and the potential of clots is a known side effect of peg asparaginas. This drug is given only twice during the protocol Harrison is on: once on day 4 and once again several months later. The drug screws up the clotting factors in the blood. About 15% of cancer patients on this protocol have clots like Harrison. But the asparagenas takes remission rates from 80% to 98%; worth the risk, they say.

So today, Harrison is on heparin, a blood thinner, to prevent more clotting. Of course, there is also the risk of even more bleeding. The doctors have had different opinions on how to treat this case, but have settle on this route.

Tomorrow, Harrison will have an MRI to see if there is any additional bleeding caused by the heavy doses of heparin. If the bleeding is significantly greater the neurosurgeons will perhaps need to intervene. Of course, we are praying this will NOT be the case.

Harrison is also on two different anti-seizure medications, as he has had a large number of “simple partial seizures.” These are due to the damage to the brain from the bleeding. There is no way to know when or even if they will ever stop. Fortunately, there are drugs to deal with them.

There also remains some eyesight problems from the bleeding, but these have improved during the week and are actually fairly insignificant, compared to other problems he has. For example, his eyesight in his left eye has gone from 20/20 to about 20/50. Even if that is permanent, it’s nothing compared to leukemia, or stroke.

We never thought we’d have a worse day than the day our son was diagnosed with cancer. We were proven wrong. But we believe he is the best care available, from the wonderful medical professionals at UNC Children’s Hospital to the family and friends here and around the world who have prayed for him, prayed with him, and encouraged him in so many ways.

This week it has been easy to forget that Harrison has leukemia, as there has been an even more immediate threat to his life. But I am convinced his oncologists have not lost sight of the need to get the underlying problem–the cancer–into remission as quickly as possible.

There are two very important prayer requests we’d make:

One, please pray that the MRI tomorrow shows no significant additional bleeding that would require invasive procedures. The doctors do not want this, neither do we, of course.

Two, please pray that the leukemia has not entered his spinal column or brain, as the treatments meant to protect those parts of the body have been impossible due to the damage to the brain.

We thank God for His people, who have been a blessing to our family during this time in tangible, emotional, and spiritual ways. We also think him for his common grace, wherein researchers, doctors, and patients who have gone before us have, even unwittingly, been a part of preparing treatment options for my little boy.

Most days I remark aloud to Ginger, or to the Lord, “I can’t do this.” I am pressed down and crushed and can’t seem to see a way out of this. But I remain convinced that God is good, and kind, and gracious, and loving, and that he is at work on behalf of my son. I have many times in these three weeks played the role of Moses in Exodus 32, where he interceded for Israel: “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’’ And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” (Exodus 32:12-14 ESV)

I have prayed that God would heal Harrison for His own glory and that the nations may not be able to say, “God brought him here only to kill him and consume him from the face of the earth.” We want the nations to say, “God has done great things for him.” That’s really all I know to pray.


36 Comments on “Latest on Harrison”

  1. I am praying for Harrison and your family. May God give you comfort and hope for healing. Stay strong in the Lord, He will not leave you.

  2. Steve as you write about praying like Moses, I can’t help but think about Aaron and Hur when Moses got weary lifting his hands when God’s people were fighting the Amalekites. When Moses was tired, he needed someone to lift up his arms so the children of Israel could prevail in the battle. Aaron and Hur were used mightily by God to hold up Moses’ hands and ensure a great victory. God could have won the victory without Moses, Aaron, Hur, Joshua or the army – but He used all of these people in unique ways. I feel like we (your friends and intercessors) are your family’s “Aaron and Hur” – when you are weary, we are praying to help you “lift your hands” or “keep up your spirit” to deal with the battles that face you every day. Don’t lose heart. God will sustain you. Take one day at a time. God is on Harrison’s side. We are praying continually!

  3. …our hearts are with you all, and we’re continuing to follow the updates and pray faithfully that the great mercies of our promise keeping God will be seen and felt by each of you–keep the faith!

  4. I have been following this blog and the prayforharrison site closely and find myself going from sick patient to well patient during the day with brief stops by my computer to look for updates on Harrison. This hopefully will be the hardest thing you and Ginger will ever go through and hopefully next New Years will be spent in the quiet of your home thinking, WOW, what a blessing it is compared to the PICU last year! You only think you can’t do it but you are doing it and with real GRACE. The Lord doesn’t put more on your plate than you can handle and as hard as it is my hope is you will soon get some relief very soon.Maybe tommorrow will be a turning point with the new MRI!!Ashley and I are in prayer for Harrison and for you and your wife and children.

  5. I am friends w/ wade & cherry parker from when he was youth pastor @ centerview. I am currently @ UNC w/ our 7th, our heart warrior Zeke. He was lifefighted here thu night. We are in the picu. And I wantedyou to know I am praying for harrison & your family. My heart is heavy for you on this eve of a new year. May you feel the arms of God around you in this terrible time.

  6. My family is praying for your dear son every morning for family devotions. Thank you for updating us in these trying times.

  7. As I read your words I am brought to many thoughts… Your God and mine is powerful and good… Your son has a mighty army around him… I miss hearing you preach… Love, blessings, and prayer flowing your way…

  8. We are praying all the time. Our hearts are with u. I find myself logging on the computer several times a day to check up on Harrison. We are here for you all at the drop of a call.

  9. My heart hurts for you and yours.I have just learned of your need, but please know my family will keep yours lifted before the Father. Your testimony brightly reflects the THE GLORY OF THE LORD as you suffer as a people with HOPE and a future. God Bless you as only He can!

  10. I am so sorry for the heart wrenching week your family has had. I have been checking the postings several times a day,and praying earnestly for Harrison, you, Ginger, Blakely, and Lachlan. I am praying God will do exceeding, abundantly above all we can ask or think. He is faithful, and He is able. I pray that He would shower you, Ginger, and your family with peace that passes all understanding as you lean on Him. He will be your Rock, Fortress, Strength, and Sustainer. He will be the Lifter of your head when you feel you can’t go on. My heart is heavy for you and Ginger as you watch your child suffer. Thank you for sharing and honoring God even in the midst of your suffering. Only God knows how many lives you will impact with your family’s faithfulness and trust in God. He loves you all. Jacob talks about Harrison everyday and prays for him and his family.

    God will be your Shield.

    Pam Tilley

  11. Tracy let us know about your son, Harrison’s diagnosis and sent the link.

    Know that God is the Great Physician and all He needs to heal Harrison

    is our faith in His ability and His willingness to do so. We will remember

    all of you in our prayers.

    The God of all comfort be with you all.

    In love,

    Becky & Ronnie Chappelle

  12. Steve and Ginger, My heart goes out to you and your family, esp, Harrison. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

  13. We are Bob Adams’ parents. We have been praying for Harrison and your family and will continue. We also have asked many of our friends here in Albany, GA, to also be praying for Harrison. We join you in calling upon God to act mightily on behalf of your precious son.
    Bobby and Virginia Adams

  14. Just know that there are people out here that don’t know your son but do know God Almighty and we are praying for your son and your family! For He is the Great Physician!

  15. You have an entire congregation praying for Harrison and you all ay Bush Memorial Baptist in Troy, Alabama.

  16. You have an entire congregation praying for Harrison and you all at Bush Memorial Baptist in Troy,Alabama.

  17. I was pointed to your blog by Marcy Sherman Miller. We are praying for your family through this very difficult trial.

    A part of your post reminded me of this song. Praying one day sweet Harrison’s sickness & pain are traded for pure joy.

    I’m trading my sorrows

    i’m trading my shame

    i’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

    i’m trading my sickness

    i’m trading my pain

    i’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

    We say yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord

    yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord

    yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord, amen

    i am pressed but not crushed

    persecuted, not abandoned

    struck down, but not destroyed

    i am blessed beyond the curse,

    for His promise will endure

    and His joy will be my strength

    though the sorrow may last for the night

    His joy comes with the morning.

    I’m trading my sorrows

    i’m trading my shame

    i’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

    i’m trading my sickness

    i’m trading my pain

    i’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

    We say yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord

    yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord

    yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord, amen (2x)

    i am pressed but not crushed

    persecuted, but not abandoned

    struck down, but not destroyed

    i am blessed beyond the curse,

    for His promise will endure

    and His joy is going to be my strength

    Though the sorrow may last for the night

    His joy comes with the morning.

    I’m trading my sorrows

    i’m trading my shame

    i’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

    i’m trading my sickness

    i’m trading my pain

    i’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord (2x)

  18. God will never leave you nor forsake you. He holds little Harrison in the “palm” of His hand. Look to His promises for peace in every situation knowing that every event is for His glory – for Harrison, his family or someone else around you. Harrison’s story, and your faith, may bring many to God’s saving love, mercy and grace. My prayer is for God to wrap His love around you like a “warm blanket” and for His peace to permeiate every moment of your life during this hard time.

  19. I am praying for Harrison and your family this morning. I am in the hospital with my daughter and have experienced new fears and emotions this week but God has been gracious and merciful to us as always. I have learned many things this week like to love more be more compassionate to others. Ordinarily I would not post a comment but just know that nothing takes God by surprise and He is totally I’m control. Be strong it’s a New Year new day and I’m believing for a Great report today for Harrison. Who knows what lives will be touched. Will continue to follow your updates. Love in Christ!

  20. Steve and Ginger,

    I am Harrison’s new science teacher at NRCA and I had the pleasure of teaching Lachlan in his computer class last year. My family and friends are in fervent prayer for Harrison’s health and recovery. We will continue to worship God as our great and only hope…. In all situations. Thank you for leading your family well (by faith) during this seemingly impossible time. I will continue to pray for the strength of God to cover each of you, moment by moment.

    In prayer,


  21. Steve and Ginger, Don’t know if you remember us from Sage Ave. Baptist. You had two of our children ,John and Cryatal Hardy in Youth Group there. A friend of mine asked me to pray for Harrison. Her daughter is in the church you are in, in NC. (Small world) I have closely followed the websites and prayed for Harrison each day. My Mom had cancer for 8 years, and I dealt with it on a daily basis, as I am an only child. I know the fears, battles and daily emergency runs to the Drs. and hopitals. I pray for strength and peace and comfort for you. God will give you just what you need, just when you think you cannot go anymore. (I know) He will never leave you, and you are, and will be a witness for Him. I pray for little Harrison, that he will feel God walking with him and that the Drs. will know just the best treatment for him. I am praying that the new MRI will show the start of remission and there will not be any permanent damage from the stroke and no new cancer cells. I pray that there will be anbsolutely no explanation for this, but by GOD! (This happened with my Mom!)I am praying Numbers 6:24-26 and Psalms 126 over Harrison. You must take each minute as it comes and give it all to God(as I know you are.) Just remember that no matter how things look to you, God is there and in Control.

    Thank you for the updates, so we know how to pray.

    We are now at Cottage Hill Baptist. The church is praying for you. I will ask for a special prayer time today.

    Love and prayers for all of you.

  22. My heart goes out to each involved. I’m going to share your story on my FB so that all our prayer warriors from around the world can stand in agreement. May you find strength and comfort. May Angels surround you with love and compassion. May healing rains pour down over you and yours.

    My family and I will continue to pray.

  23. I found out about your son’s condition from my sister, Jennifer East, through Facebook. I don’t even know you but your story has inspired me to not only pray for your son and family but also to think about how precious life is and that it can change in an instant. Therefore, live life like it is your last day on Earth and tell your family constantly how much you love them. God is great and he can perform any miracle and if it is in God’s plan, he will answer all of the prayers for your son’s recovery. Please keep us posted on his progress.

  24. Our prayers have been and will continue to be with you, Harrison, your family and the doctors that are caring for Harrison. Please continue to put your faith in our gracious God. He is all powerful. I understand that it may difficult to understand His plan for Harrison, but maintain your faith and know that many are constantly uplifting Harrison and your family in prayers. God is good and gracious.

  25. Steve & Ginger – I am in true disbelief reading about all that Harrison and the rest of you have endured over the past week. What a scary week! I know you all are truly wiped out with worry and I just wanted to send you all our love. 8) Ashley is getting her central line replaced tomorrow morning at UNC and then we have clinic visits on Thursday & Friday before being admitted to the PICU on Sunday to start a new treatment. Hopefully our paths will cross with yours….we will be looking out for you all in hopes that we can give you hugs in person. You’re in our constant thoughts and prayers. XOXO

    ~ Nicole, Hunter, Olivia & Ashley Burnette (

  26. Sweet Family-Just wanted you to know that you are in my prayers. It is so hard to see those we love so much go through all they have to when diagonosed with cancer! God is always faithful and will give you the strength you need. My husband had cancer and everyday he would say “today could be the day they have a cure”! We know that with God ALL things are possible. God bless and know that Bush Memorial Baptist Church is praying for you!


  27. praying, praying, praying for Harrison and all of your family! Ali tells everyone to pray, so you have an army behind you! God Bless You! ~ Rexann Durham

  28. Thank you for this update. We continue to pray for Harrison and your family. Your words are an encouragement to us as we witness your faithfulness in this dark time. We pray that you will continue to keep your eyes on the One who gives us life.

  29. Dear Steve and Ginger, I have been following the updates on Twitter and find my heart very heavy for you today. What I know from walking with Brian through years of chronic heart problems and several trips to death’s door is that even though it doesn.t always feel like it , God is with you. I pray that He will grant you moments of His peace that passes all understanding. Those seemed to be my only moments of rest.. And sometimes they were only moments. We are praying hard for Harrison, you both, and Lachlan and Blakely. Please know you are never alone… With His love and ours, Caroline Barndt

  30. You do not know me, but I heard of your trials through a friend. I have a son, Patrick, 12, who is currently battling ALL. He also developed a brain blood clot from PEG early on in his treatment course. While we were still in shock from the initial diagnosis, we had to deal with another life-threatening diagnosis. I kept turning to Philippians 4:13 knowing that the only way to get through each day was asking God to provide the strength. And He did. He always supplied us with whatever we needed to get through each challenging minute, hour and day. I am praying that you feel His continuous presence though these dark days through the people He puts in your lives. Your family has been added to my prayer list. Don’t stop believing! God will carry you through this valley. He has carried my family though the past 7 &1/2 years since Patrick’s initial diagnosis. God is in control.

  31. No words seem to come, only i pray for you and your family. The Great Physician and that all that come in contact with your son that they have a caring heart and a healing touch. I pray for your strength in the storm….

  32. I read the tweet about the pills. If this hasn’t been suggested, cover the prednisone with a thin layer of butter or margarine – slides down easier and covers the taste a bit. (Along those lines, pickle juice and ketchup both can cut the prednisone taste.) I had never swallowed a pill before diagnosis and the handfuls were more than intimidating – I would butter them all 🙂 praying for you all!

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