Dying Boy Lived Long Enough to Meet Newborn Sister and Pick Her Name

January 12, 2018 Updated: January 12, 2018

The parents of a 9-year-old boy who defied odds and battled cancer long enough to meet his newborn sister and pick her name before passing away have revealed his heartbreaking story to the Bristol Post.

When doctors discovered cancer in Bailey Cooper’s body, they gave him “days or weeks” to live.

But the young boy was determined to fight the cancer and hung on for a gruelling 15 months, through many rounds of treatment.

Bailey passed away on Christmas Eve with his parents Lee and Rachel Cooper at his bedside—but not before he met his baby sister and named her Millie.


Bailey’s tribulations began in the summer of 2016, when he fell ill and sought medical attention. Doctors initially thought he had a viral infection and when that didn’t clear up, they prescribed antibiotics for a suspected chest infection.

But the boy’s condition worsened.

The results of the blood tests were crushing—Bailey was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer which affects the vessels and glands in the body.

Treatment was ordered, with chemotherapy and steroid medication. In February 2017, the cancer went into remission and recovery seemed likely.

“They thought there were no more signs of the cancer,” said the boy’s father, according to the Bristol Post. “He started back at Stoke Lodge school and from then we were home.

“He had to go in for regular check ups and routine MRIs every three months, but things were looking up.”

Around Easter last year, however, doctors notified his parents that there was a relapse and he had to return to hospital.

Bailey was then given a 70 percent chance of survival.

“He went into chemo again,” his father told the newspaper. “The doctors threw the book at it, and told us even if he survived it, the long-term effects will last for the rest of his life. He had a stem cell transplant.”

Bailey battled the disease, and at the end of July, he recovered enough to leave the hospital and spend some time at home with family.

“We had six weeks at home with him that summer. It was amazing,” Bailey’s mother said.

But at the end of August, there was a relapse. But this time, the cancer was even more aggressive.

“She [the consultant] broke the news to us. It was late stage four, and it was even worse. It was very aggressive.”

There were lumps in the boy’s chest, lungs, liver and stomach.

“She told us there wasn’t very long left—it was only days or weeks,” said his father.

But Bailey battled hard, determined to meet his little sister, due in November.

“Those three months were absolutely horrendous. We knew he didn’t have very long, and we tried to enjoy whatever time he had left,” the boy’s mother said.

Bailey was put on pain medication but his state deteriorated.

“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,” Bailey’s mother said.

“But week by week, he got dramatically worse. He would be down and sleeping on the sofa a lot, and sometimes in bed unresponsive. It was difficult.”

Bailey’s father said predictions were that the boy would pass away before the birth of his sister.

“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,” the father said.

“But the moment after he met her, he began to taper off quickly. He was slipping away.”

On Friday, Dec. 22, Bailey was taken to the hospice.

“We sat there hour by hour, watching him slip away. We read him stories, and listened to his favourite music,” his mother recalled.

“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’.

“The moment we said ‘stop’, he took his last breath and had just the one tear come out of his eye. It was peaceful.”

Bailey’s parents shared that their son said something extraordinarily touching about his little sister not long before he was taken to hospice.

“I want to stay but it’s my time to go to become her guardian angel.”

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