A brave young boy with terminal cancer has defied the odds, living to cuddle and name his new baby sister despite doctors thinking he wouldn’t live long enough.
The parents of nine-year-old Bailey Cooper, from Patchway, South Gloucestershire, were told he only had ‘days or weeks’ to live after cancer had spread throughout his body.
However, despite doctors’ predictions, Bailey was able to live long enough to meet his sister, who he personally named Millie.
Bailey was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016. Doctors initially thought he had a chest infection, however they ran blood tests when he complained of stomach pains.
By the time the rare form of cancer was detected it was already at Stage Three. Bailey underwent chemotherapy treatment as well as steroid medication, with doctors believing he would get better.
He went into remission during February 2017 and for a while things were looking more hopeful. However, during an Easter holiday in Devon, the family were told by doctors Bailey had relapsed and was needed back in the hospital.
This time, doctors advised there was a 70 per cent survival rate. Bailey underwent further chemotherapy as well as a stem cell transplant. He went into remission once again in July, and the family enjoyed six ‘amazing’ weeks before receiving some devastating news.
The cancer had returned by the end of August, and this time nothing could be done to save young Bailey.
The cancer was now at late Stage Four, and was very aggressive. The consultant told Rachel and Lee it would only be a matter of days or weeks before their son would die.
Bailey was a devoted brother, and had been a ‘best friend’ to his six-year-old brother Riley. However, with his health deteriorating, it wasn’t expected he would hold on that long.
Despite the prognosis, Bailey was still alive in November for when Millie was born.
Mum Rachel told the Bristol Post:
We didn’t think he would last that long, but he was determined to meet Millie. It got to the end of November, and Millie was born.
He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do – change her, wash her, sing to her,
Doctors said he was going to go before Millie was born. He didn’t. He fought, and on the way to hospital, he said we should call her Millie.
But the moment after he met her, he began to taper off quickly. He was slipping away.
As Christmas approached, Bailey showed a maturity beyond his years as he continued to look out for his siblings.
He knew he was not going to be here for Christmas, but we tried to get him to put together a Christmas list. He said he didn’t want to, but we encouraged him to.
We were going to get everything he asked for. But most of the stuff he asked for were things he never played with. They were more suited for his little brother.
He had picked everything for Riley because he knew he was not going to play with them.
Speaking about baby Millie in December, Bailey said, ‘I want to stay but it’s my time to go, to become her guardian angel.’
Bailey also told his family: ‘You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Millie.’
On December 22, Bailey was taken to the hospice by ambulance. Here his family read to him and played his favourite music as he slipped away.
Little Bailey passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve, with his parents Lee and Rachel holding his hands.
In the weeks since his death, Bailey’s family have spoken of the remarkable bravery he showed throughout his illness.
His dad Lee has said:
Bailey smiled through it all. He pulled funny faces and made people laugh, even though he was in so much pain.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of Westerleigh Crematorium on January 6 dressed up in superhero costumes to pay their respects to this inspirational young man.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.