Cooper is a 9-year-old boy with a belly laugh and a passion for sports, so in May 2016, when he started asking to sit out of Little League games and didn’t want to go outside to play after school, his mom Stacie knew something was wrong.
After an evening of crying from back pain, he was taken to an Urgent Care clinic on Sunday, July 17, 2016. Less than an hour after Cooper’s blood was drawn at the clinic, he was admitted to Blank Children’s Hospital. Following a bone marrow draw, Cooper was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). An MRI showed compression fractures in three vertebrae.
“The shock of hearing ‘your son has cancer’ is not something anyone should have to hear,” says Stacie. “But despite the diagnosis, financial strains, and daily struggles, our family has been so blessed!”
While inpatient at Blank Children's, Cooper met a soon-to-be junior from Johnston High School. Noah had the same disease Cooper does and went on to play football and baseball as well as be involved with childhood cancer charities like Children’s Cancer Connection and Make-A-Wish. From meeting Noah, Cooper has learned to be an example for others. During the past year, he has worked with the Child Life staff at Blank Children’s to record videos of how the port in his chest works. Child Life is able to use these videos to teach younger patients about their ports and show them they don’t have to be afraid. Cooper has also been a Student Hero for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients drive at his school, and he raised money and collected toys from his 9th birthday party to donate to Blank’s Shining Star program.
Despite being in a back brace for over six months, enduring ten months of weekly chemotherapy, and missing out on flag football, basketball, and PE (his favorite class), Cooper has kept smiling and spreading joy to those around him. This attitude is a part of who Cooper has always been, but it has blossomed because of this incredible journey he is on.
“It has been such a beautiful thing to watch,” says Stacie. “He is truly an inspiration!”
Cooper hopes that he can be an example for other kids who’ve been affected by cancer, to show them that the disease is a setback but you can still just “be a kid.” He’s beyond excited to be down on the field at Jack Trice Stadium with the players and coaches to support his beloved Cyclones!