Super Cooper’s Story


Justin and Elise are our nephew and his wife and they have a daughter Grace who is six years old and a two year old son, Cooper.  Justin wrote the following in August:

Cooper turned 2 years old last month. For the past three months Cooper has sporadically complained that his neck hurt after he would do physical activities such as running, jumping or getting tickled. He would complain about his neck but once he rested or lay down for a few seconds – off he would go!

Elise and her motherly instinct continued to monitor him closely and took him to the pediatrician and a number of specialists to attempt to figure out the issue. The doctors felt it was probably nothing that serious because it only presented as neck pain and no other symptoms such as slurred speech, loss of balance, vomiting, etc. But once again Elise knew something was not right. Long story short – she pushed for an MRI to make sure nothing was seriously wrong expecting maybe a spine, back or disc issue.

But, during the MRI they found a tumor on the base of Cooper’s brain approximately the size of a golf ball. Cooper was admitted to Duke University on August 18th and had surgery on August 20th. The surgery last nearly 12-hours from start to finish.

As you can imagine, all of our family and their many friends have been praying for this precious little family constantly since this all started in August.

Justin and Elise, in a wonderful use of modern technology, have posted regularly on a website provided by Duke so that all who love and care about them can know what is going on with Cooper’s treatments and how their family is getting by.

When I read the following post Elise did at Thanksgiving, it brought tears to my eyes and another kind of thankfulness to my heart . . . for the example of faith, love and courage that she and Justin have been to everyone who knows them since Cooper was diagnosed with a brain tumor just over three months ago.

The tumor was removed immediately, but Cooper has been in constant treatment at one medical facility or another ever since, while teams of doctors use all their talents and resources* to assure that all of the tumor has been removed and to restore him to his healthy two year old self.  Cooper isn’t totally out of the woods yet, but we are all praying for his complete recovery.

As Elise wrote this, she and Cooper are living in an apartment near a huge medical facility several hours from home where Cooper is receiving treatment.  Justin and Grace, who just started kindergarten, keep the home fires burning and visit at every opportunity.  Not exactly an ideal situation for any of them, which makes this post she wrote at Thanksgiving very remarkable:

Forever Grateful

As the Thanksgiving Holiday comes ever so quickly I find myself stopping and taking a breath during all of the chaos of life to remember how very blessed our family is. Sometimes it is hard to feel that way but when I step back and look at what God has provided my family I am overwhelmed with love. I have a beautiful family that I love more than life, I have friends I cannot imagine a day without, I have a roof over my head and a bed to rest it on at night, and I have been given the opportunity to meet new and wonderful people every day who help me to grow and learn and hopefully become better. I have nothing but thanks to give.

We are forever grateful to all of you for just being there and encouraging us along this journey. You are all our blessing and will be in our prayers this Thanksgiving Day! Please know that Coop and Grace feel your warmth and love daily!

With love,

Cooper’s illness has made his parents very aware of the need for funding in the area of treatment and research in regard to pediatric cancer.  So, they have formed The Super Cooper Little Red Wagon Foundation, in order to raise support for those very necessary, but many times underfunded, organizations they have come to know through this journey.

If you are interested in donating $10 to this worthwhile cause and receiving a Super Cooper’s Pit Crew bracelet, here is how you can do it.

The Super Cooper Little Red Wagon Foundation

In order to help support these worthwhile organizations, you can purchase a light blue (Coop’s favorite color) bracelet with the inscription “Super Cooper’s Pit Crew.”

A $10 donation per bracelet would be greatly appreciated. All contributions are tax deductible.

Make checks payable to: Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. Please reference fund # 1027451 on your check’s memo line. Fidelity will issue a receipt to the address on your check.

Please send your order and check to:

Jennifer Thompson
208 Glenhaven Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Adult Size # ___________

Child Size (Ages 7 and under) # ____________

Thank you.

7 Responses to Super Cooper’s Story

  1. C says:

    Oh, yes, I’m ordering bracelets. This made me shake off my Monday-morning sluggishness. What a wonderful little boy and praise God for mothering instinct! Thank you so much for sharing with us about Cooper so that we can pray and donate. C

  2. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for this post….I will add this family to my prayers and I, too, will be ordering bracelets!

  3. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much, C. When I posted this, I had no idea if I should be asking my blogging friends to participate or not, and whether anyone would respond anyway. But, it really is a very worthwhile effort so I felt like I at least had to present the opportunity.

    So a special thanks to you, friend, for being the first to confirm to me it was the right things to do.

  4. Sandra says:

    Oh thank you, Cheryl. Prayers are much needed too.

    btw, C, I forgot to say that it really was Elise’ tenacity that made the Drs. find this tumor. Who knows what would have happened if she hadn’t been so persistent.

  5. Hilary says:

    I have a relative whose son was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor when he was 18 months old – requiring surgery then and again at age 3. He’s now an incredibly accomplished, independent and wonderfully sociable 20 year old who plans to travel to Israel for a few weeks both with a group and then more extensively on his own, later this month. They did great things with pediatric neurosurgery almost two decades ago. They’re doing even more these days.

    Maternal instinct is a wonderful thing. Sadly, my cousin’s tumor would have been caught a lot earlier leaving less damage had his Mom been more in tune to his symptoms. Thankfully, your niece was on top of Cooper’s complaints.

    Count me in for a bracelet.

  6. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much, Hilary. Both for your “light at the end of the tunnel” story about a boy with a similar experience who eventually thrived, and for your willingness to support their charity.

    Justin gives Elise all the credit for being tenacious about pushing the doctors even when they weren’t too interested in doing an MRI. We are all so thankful for her “type A” personality that saved the day.

  7. […] Remember when I told you about Cooper here? […]

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