When nine-year-old Bailey Cooper was told by doctors that he only had days or weeks to live, he was determined to hold on long enough to meet his new baby sister.
Despite the fact that cancer had spread throughout his entire body, Bailey was able to hold his baby sister in his arms and name her Millie before passing away on Christmas Eve.
Bailey had been fighting cancer for 15 months, having been diagnosed with stage three Non-Hodgkin lymphoma after falling ill in the summer of 2016.
What doctors initially thought was a viral infection turned out to be a rare form of cancer, which they discovered after Bailey underwent a blood test.
“He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do - change her, wash her, sing to her.”
Bailey’s father Lee explained that the family were hopeful that Bailey would recover during the early stages of treatment.
“We didn’t know anything then. When we brought him into hospital before, we thought he would be okay, and we started doubting ourselves for a bit,” he told the Bristol Post.
“But the pains got worse and worse, and the oncology doctors told us he had to go into treatment.”
Bailey started chemotherapy with steroid medication, going into remission in February 2017.
However, in Easter the family received a phone call from the hospital that Bailey had relapsed and was in need of further treatment.
“He went into chemo again,” Lee said, revealing that doctors had given Bailey a 70 percent survival rate at that point.
“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.”
Sadly, at the end of August doctors informed Bailey’s parents that the aggressive cancer had reached late stage four, spreading to Bailey’s chest, lungs, liver and stomach.
Lee and Rachel, Bailey’s mother, were forced to tell their son that he had only days or weeks to live.
“Bailey was only nine, but we were very open with him,” Lee said.
“We told him straight away. He broke down and said he didn’t want to go on his own.
“We stayed there with him, and in a couple of hours, he took it all in.
“He gave us a smile and said: ‘Let’s go home.’”
The next three months were terrible for the family, with the knowledge that Bailey may not survive past Christmas.
However, Bailey was determined to have the chance to meet his youngest sibling.
“Doctors said he was going to go before Millie was born,” Rachel said. “He didn’t.
“He fought, and on the way to the hospital, he said we should call her Millie.
Bailey, who was also very close with his younger brother Riley, was taken by ambulance to a hospice on December 22.
On Christmas Eve, Bailey passed away surrounded by his family at his bedside.
“We have to carry on for Bailey,” Rachel said. “He told us in our last family meeting: ‘You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Millie.'"