Bailey Cooper’s family received the most devastating news that parents could hear when their son was diagnosed with stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
In 2016, their whole world was turned upside down. Bailey only had a short time left where he had doctor visits and treatments in hopes of a better outcome.
Thankfully his cancer went into remission, however it didn’t last long.
Life for Bailey returned to normal as he went back to school but then the family were informed his cancer returned. This involved more rounds of chemo and hospital visits where Bailey began to feel better.
Unfortunately the cancer had returned with a poor prognosis.
“[The consultant] broke the news to us,” said Bailey’s father, Lee. “It was late Stage Four, and it was even worse. It was very aggressive.”
Doctors discovered lumps in Bailey’s chest, lungs, liver, and stomach. They gave him days, maybe weeks, to live.
When he was told the heartbreaking news, Bailey was devastated, but he was also determined to live to meet his baby sister, who was due a few months later. Everyone prayed he would make it that long.
Amazingly, the little boy proved to be a fighter. In November, he got to hold his newborn sister in his arms. His parents even let him choose her name: Millie.
“He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do — change her, wash her, sing to her,” said Bailey’s mother, Rachel.
Bailey’s health deteriorated after Millie was born.
They were hoping to celebrate Christmas together, so Bailey’s parents encouraged him to make a list of the gifts he wanted. Bailey asked for presents he knew his younger brother, Riley, would enjoy.
Just before Christmas, all of his extended family came to say their goodbyes. As Bailey’s grandmother cried and told him she wished she could take his place, the young boy admonished her:
“That is really selfish Nan,” he told her. “You have grandchildren to take care of.”
Once the cancer reached Bailey’s brain he endured five days of painful radiotherapy and he told his family that it was time for him to go.
“I want to stay but it’s my time to go, to become her guardian angel,” Bailey said, speaking of his baby sister.
On December 22, Bailey became unresponsive and his family stayed by his side as he slowly slipped away.
“We sat there hour by hour, watching him slip away,” Rachel said. “We read him stories and listened to his favorite music.
“By 11:45 a.m. on Christmas Eve, we were by his bedside. We knew it was not going to be long. We told him ‘It’s time to go Bailey. Stop.’”
As Bailey took his final breath a tear poured down his face and peacefully passed away.
The family’s hearts into a million pieces with the devastation but they knew Bailey was finally at peace.
“We are numb, but in a way also happy he is no longer in pain,” Lee said.
They now try to follow the wishes of their young son, who was wise beyond his years.
“He told us in our last family meeting: ‘You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes,” Rachel said. “You have to take care of Riley and Millie.”
Bailey’s story is a heartbreaking but his courage, strength, and positivity continue to inspire people around the world.
His family hope his light and legacy will continue to live on.