Bailey Cooper was just like any other little boy until doctors diagnosed him with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2016. Suddenly his life became full of doctor visits and chemotherapy treatments.
Through it all, the young boy remained positive and cheerful, a ray of sunshine during the terrifying time.
In February 2017, the cancer went into remission. Bailey went back to school and it seemed like life was returning to normal.
Then, over Easter break, the family got the call that the cancer had returned.
Again, Bailey fought valiantly and the cancer went back into remission. The family held onto hope that this time it was for good.
Then, 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 Bailey was told the heartbreaking news he was devastated, but he was also determined to live to meet his baby sister, who was due a few months later. The family hoped and prayed he would make it that long.
Amazingly, the little boy proved yet again 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.
Sadly, once Millie was born, Bailey’s strength began to fail. His body grew weaker by the day.
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.”
Eventually, the cancer reached Bailey’s brain. After enduring five painful days of radiotherapy, the brave boy told his family he knew it was his time 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.
“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 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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