A little boy fought terminal cancer long enough to meet and name his newborn baby sister.
Doctors said Bailey Cooper, nine, who had battled cancer for 15 months, was unlikely to meet his little sister before she was born, but Bailey was determined to meet and name his new sibling.
He held on until mum Rachel gave birth in November and got the chance to name sister Millie as well as spending a few precious weeks with her before losing his battle with cancer on Christmas Eve.
Mum and dad Rachel and Lee said he smiled all the way through his treatment and even told them: “You can only cry for twenty minutes”.
Rachel, 28 said: “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.”
Lee, 30, added: “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.”
The family encouraged Bailey to write a Christmas list, despite knowing he was unlikely to survive, but noticed most of his gifts seemed to be chosen with his six-year-old brother Riley in mind.
Bailey had planned his own funeral, asking that all guests dressed in superhero outfits, and told his parents in their last family meeting: “You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Millie.”
After being taken to a hospice on December 22, Bailey’s family gathered by his bedside and read him stories to keep him company.
Rachel said: “By 11.45am 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 first became ill in the summer of 2016, and after a series of tests in September he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which develops in the network of vessels and glands in the body. By the time it was discovered, it was already in Stage Three.
After being treated chemotherapy and steroid medication, Bailey went into remission in February 2017, returning to primary school in Patchway, Bristol, and was subject to regular check ups.
But when the family went on holiday at Easter to a Devon holiday park, they were dealt a devastating blow as the hospital revealed Bailey had relapsed.
The family were told there was a 70% survival rate, and chemotherapy began again.
Lee said: “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. We had to try everything we could.”
In July, the family were told that Bailey was in remission but by August the cancer had come back – and they were told there was nothing more which could be done.
The cancer had spread quickly and lumps were found in Bailey’s chest, lungs, liver and stomach.
Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to Bailey on January 6, including Bristol Rovers FC captain Tom Lockyer, who struck up a friendship with the young football fan.
Lee said: “Bailey smiled through it all. He pulled funny faces and made people laugh, even though he was in so much pain.”