Keegan Harrell is a fun, outgoing ten-year-old kid. Before November of 2015, Keegan lived a normal life. He went to school, and one of his favorite pastimes was playing football. He had just finished the season when he began experiencing pain in his left thigh.
Initially, his parents assumed he might have a football injury, but it ended up being more than Keegan and his family were prepared for. It wasn’t long until Keegan had difficulty climbing into the family vehicle. Shortly after, Keegan would come home from school and go to sleep instead of playing outside. After an x-ray, a trip to the orthopedic center, and an MRI, his doctors concluded that Keegan had cancer. He was admitted to St. Jude Children’s Hospital right away to begin his long battle with Stage III Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.
The doctors at St. Jude immediately placed Keegan on a six-month regimen of chemotherapy, an intensive treatment that caused hair loss, mouth sores, and nausea. One of the most difficult consequences of Keegan’s treatment was the inability to be in his home. This forced his family to split; while Keegan’s mom stayed in Memphis, Tennessee, with Keegan, his dad and brother were back at home in Mississippi. His brother and father would come up on weekends to visit.
Although this was hard for the family, they remained strong, and Keegan was nothing short of a warrior.
During his chemotherapy treatments, Keegan was still the same fun, outgoing child he was before. “Childhood cancer is terrifying for the entire family. It’s really, really hard watching your child fight for their life. You stay strong, but somehow your child gives you peace and comfort and never loses his smile. It’s really inspiring,” said Keegan’s mom. One person who continually lifted Keegan’s spirits even on the toughest of days was YouTube personality, comedian and vlogger Roman Atwood. Roman currently has a fan base of approximately ten million people and counting. Roman is well known for his vlogs, and he posts a new one every day. Keegan loves to laugh, so it seems only fitting that he would keep up with Roman! Every afternoon at 2:00, Keegan would watch Roman’s new video. Even if he was about to have another chemo treatment or an x-ray, Keegan knew nothing could ruin his day as long as he got to see Roman’s new video!
In June 2016, it was becoming clear that the long, brutal chemotherapy regimen was working. Keegan was showing no signs of cancer. He was even back at school and playing football again when the season started. It was truly a miracle! In August, Keegan and his family had the opportunity to meet with Make-A-Wish Mississippi. When Keegan found out that he was going to receive a wish, he knew exactly what he wanted. Keegan had a long six month battle with cancer, but one person made it more bearable for him, Roman Atwood. That’s why Keegan was certain that he wanted to meet Roman face to face. After all, what better person to meet than the person who helped him through cancer? Mom and dad received a call a few months later confirming that Roman and his son, Noah, would be on the family’s doorstep within a few weeks!
On December 10, 2016, the family was going about with their day when they heard the doorbell ring. Keegan answered the door and to his astonishment, it was Roman Atwood! Keegan couldn’t believe his eyes. He never dreamed that Roman would actually be standing at his doorstep. It was nothing short of magical! To start off his exciting day, Keegan played basketball with Roman, Noah, and his brother. Afterwards, everyone was whisked away to one of Keegan’s favorite restaurants, but not until Roman gave Keegan a brand new G7 X camera. This was exactly what Keegan wanted for Christmas and more. All along Keegan had a YouTube channel, but didn’t have a camera to shoot videos, so this was extremely exciting for him! Later that day, Roman helped Keegan make a few videos with the new camera. “It was the happiest day of my life,” said Keegan. Roman didn’t leave without giving Keegan a few more Christmas goodies and, of course, a hug goodbye.
Ever since Roman Atwood came into town, Keegan has been making videos with his new camera and uploading them to his YouTube channel on a regular basis. His channel has accumulated about eighty-thousand subscribers and over one million views. A true vlogger, Keegan is gradually and proudly following in Roman’s footsteps. His experience with Make-A-Wish Mississippi was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one he is sure to never forget.
Written by Maddi Jolley