Preteen learns to seize the day after high-risk cancer diagnosis

Kids with Courage
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12-year-old Harrison Murphy loves to make a summer splash in his backyard pool with friends.  Not many kids his age have the wisdom to “seize the day.”

“On the days he feels great, he’s out there living his best life, and on the days he doesn’t, he knows he needs to rest,” says his mom, Lee Murphy.

It was last winter when Harrison began to get mysterious, excruciating pains.

He explains: “There was this pain in my ribs, and I thought I broke ’em so I went to several emergency rooms, and they couldn’t find any breaks in my ribs.”

Harrison’s mom remembers when the pain turned to panic.

“It was back pain where he cannot even walk, and I have to carry him to the car, and at that time I’m terrified.”

Even in the ER, the answers weren’t at first apparent, as doctors watched him overnight.

Harrison’s dad, Barry recalls, “Something happened overnight when his platelet count dropped 90-percent, and then I think it flashed and everyone said he’s got leukemia.”

When asked about the diagnosis of leukemia, Harrison says, “I’ve heard about it, but never thought I’d get it.”

Dr. Chinni Pokola from Jimmy Everest Cancer Center says, “It can be hard to figure out leukemia from an infection.”

He says since Harrison is on the verge of his teen years, it bumped him into the high-risk category which means his treatment is more intense.

“We know we need to give older children more intensive treatment to achieve higher cure rates,” says Dr. Pokola.

The good news is that Harrison is in remission.

He’s growing and he’s grateful.

“Everybody is so nice,” says Harrison about his doctors and medical team.

Barry Murphy agrees, “It’s a terrible club to be a part of, but the amazing thing is this facility exists with these amazing people in it. Harrison has a twin who is also a big social support, and his mother just hopes he keeps such a great attitude during the two years of treatments that lie ahead.

“My dream for him is he continues to be the sweet, kind, empathetic human being he is right now.  I am awed by his strength every day,” said Harrison’s mom.

Harrison says, “Out of your whole lifetime, this is just two years.”

Harrison plans to live each one to the fullest.

If you’d like to help kids like Harrison fight cancer, consider donating to

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