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Meet Cooper: Riley Hospital for Children Patient and Extra Lifer

Cooper was treated at Riley Hospital for Children for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He spent 155 days at his children’s hospital throughout his treatment and now he’s giving back to help other kids like him.

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Note: This is from the perspective of Cooper’s mother, Sandy. In May 2015, Cooper had been experiencing back pain. It wasn’t constant, but it was very uncomfortable. At first, we thought it was simply growing pains. As time moved on, however, it seemed to progress both in frequency and discomfort. We took Cooper to his pediatrician who could not pinpoint the problem. She referred us to a sports medicine doctor. Cooper was an active baseball player at the time, and we felt it could be related to that. This doctor felt Cooper may need some physical therapy for some tight muscles, but other than that there was no real concern. We took Cooper to the physical therapist who gave him exercises to do at home and said to return in 10 days. Cooper was sore and hurting. He struggled to do the simplest of exercises. It seemed to be getting worse. We went back to his pediatrician. She still could not make any sense of it. None of us could.

She called Riley Hospital for Children to get Cooper in to see an orthopedic specialist. That night we put Cooper to bed promising him to get to the bottom of his pain. At about 3 a.m. he woke us up screaming in pain. He couldn’t move. He was in excruciating pain and he wouldn’t even let us touch him. I ran to get him some pain medicine and we tried to convince him to move. It took almost 2 hours for the pain to subside enough to stand up. Larry and I tried to stay calm, but inside we were panicking. What could this possibly be? Once we were able to get him up, we took him to the Emergency Department at Riley where they examined him and ran extensive blood tests. That is where doctors discovered that Cooper had blasts in his blood. Blasts are immature white blood cells and a red flag indication of leukemia. We were stunned. Nothing can ever prepare you to hear those words. We were then admitted to the oncology floor and a bone marrow biopsy was performed the next day, confirming it was leukemia.

Our hilarious, energetic, baseball-loving, 11-year-old son had cancer. Our heads were spinning. Then came the non-stop freight train that we now know as pediatric cancer treatment. Cooper’s full diagnosis was Philadelphia Chromosome Positive B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. A very rare form of leukemia. It would require hospital stays and several very high dose IV chemotherapy drugs and oral chemotherapy every single day for two straight years. Treatment was brutal. There is no other way to describe it. Although we had a roadmap to follow, many things did not go as planned. One of the IV drugs Cooper received should have left his body in 48 hours. He held it in his body for 26 days. It nearly destroyed his kidneys. Cancer doesn’t play by the rules, but Cooper was determined to fight. He never gave up. Cooper was inpatient a total of 155 days during his treatment.

His faith, family, friends and positive attitude are what carried him through those difficult days. Out of these ashes…beauty did rise. Cooper is now in remission and done with treatment! Our prayer is that he will have complete healing and that he will continue living his best life and doing what he loves: bringing laughter to all those around him and walking out his faith, by loving God and loving others. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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