For Cooper

Today, I got bad news.  After a series of other setbacks, my car has given up the ghost and needs a new engine.  Since my job was ended due to funding back in October, I didn’t need this.  In addition, my tax refund this year was spent catching up on bills and making repairs to my house that were critical.  It was draining to get this latest news, and I have been in full pity party mode all day.

I picked up my phone and logged onto Facebook, and saw an update on a young friend of mine, and suddenly my car doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Cooper is only ten years old, and I’ve known his parents so long I don’t remember how or when we met.  I remember about 24 years ago or so, laughing with his dad Don as he celebrated his sister’s baby being born that day.  Cooper’s mom is Joanna, and her dad Gary was my dentist for years.    

Gary died on December 13th, within days of doctors discovering a cancerous tumor in Cooper’s kidney, which had spread to his lung.  He would need to have the tumor shrunk enough to remove his kidney, then more aggressive treatment against the rest of the cancer.  

I have carried Cooper and his lovely parents in my heart as they dealt with the memorial arrangements for his grandpa while trying to absorb this incredibly devastating news, out of the blue.

On Christmas Eve, as I opened presents and celebrated with my family, Cooper dealt with mouth sores, jaw pain, and abdominal cramping.  He was in so much pain he was unable to eat, and was losing a lot of weight.  Two days after Christmas, his hair began to fall out.  All in all, a horrible and devastating holiday season for him and his family.

On January 5th, as I sat in the dentist’s chair, feeling sorry for myself because I hate getting my teeth cleaned, Cooper and his parents were saying their final goodbyes to Cooper’s grandpa, and he was laid to rest.

On February 3rd, as I sat waiting for my granddaughter to come out of her tonsil surgery, I was anxious and worried, even though I went through the same procedure with her mom and her brother.  As I sat agonizing and fretting, Cooper’s parents were celebrating that their boy had been able to come home to finish recovering from the removal of his left kidney.  The day prior he had had radiation simulation in preparation for his upcoming radiation and chemo.

The month since has been hell for Cooper.  Chemo and radiation have battered his poor little body, while his parents helplessly watch.   

His mother updated his Caring Bridge page today, and it was heart wrenching.  This is the kind of pain no parent should ever have to withstand.  While the last month has been wretched, they are praying that this aggressive treatment kills the remaining cancer and restores their son’s health. They are hopeful to get good results from an upcoming scan on the 10th of this month, and could use all the support they can get.

I am providing a link to Cooper’s gofundme page, if anyone is so inclined to send money their way.  It would mean a lot.

If you don’t wish to donate, or can’t afford to do so, there are other ways to help.  Positive energy and prayer goes a long way, and they’re free.  If you want to spread the word to others who can help, that’s also great.  

A friend of the family, Elisabeth, is selling bracelets to raise money for Cooper.  There is even a contest, which involves Portland Trailblazer tickets for whoever sells the most tickets.  So if you are interested in purchasing or helping to sell bracelets, please email her at

It breaks my heart that there are thousands of kids out there like Cooper, and parents enduring what his parents are enduring.  How Don and Joanna have maintained even a shred of sanity is beyond me.  Yet they are gracious, humble, and appreciative of every card, meal, prayer, and gesture on their son’s behalf.  Poor Joanna has not even had the chance to properly grieve the death of her father, yet she remains positive and hopeful.  Every kid deserves parents that love them as much as they love Cooper.

As I scrolled Facebook today, I saw so many petty and negative things, and I’ve certainly been guilty of it too.  Yet here is Cooper, who always seems to be able to smile, no matter what.  He and his parents can provide us all a lesson, or at least a reminder, about what really matters.  I hope that short of directly helping this family, you are at least able to stop for a moment, and remember how blessed you are no matter what. 

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