The family of a boy named Bailey Cooper received the most devastating news a parent can ever hear. Their son had cancer. The sweet boy was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2016.
All of a sudden, his entire life was all about treatments and doctor visits.
Everyone hoped for the best outcome, and for a short period of time, that’s exactly what they got. The cancer went into remission, but that didn’t last long.
Bailey got back to school and everything seemed normal when the family was told that the cancer returned. Sadly, it meant more rounds of chemo and hospital visits. Again, the treatments seemed to work and Bailey started feeling better.
Unfortunately, in August, came the heartbreaking blow: the cancer had returned yet again, and this time the prognosis was grim.
“[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.”
The cancer had spread quickly. Doctors found 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.
After Millie’s birth, Bailey’s health deteriorated.
Holding out hope that they would be able to celebrate Christmas together, Bailey’s parents encouraged him to make a list of the gifts he wanted. Showing the same selflessness he’d had throughout his battle, Bailey asked for presents he knew his younger brother, Riley, would enjoy.
Just before Christmas, the extended family came to the house 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.”
When the cancer reached Bailey’s brain he enduring five painful days of radiotherapy.That’s when 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 as the cancer took over his tiny body. 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.’”
At that moment, a single tear slipped out of Bailey’s eye. He took his final breath and peacefully passed away.
Losing their child was devastating and it broke the family’s hearts into a million pieces, but they all knew that 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.”
This boy’s story is a heartbreaking and tragic one, but his courage, strength, and positivity in the face of pain and hardship continue to inspire people around the world. While his family grieves his loss, they know his light and legacy will continue to live on.
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