Cooper Hanks, an adventurous 3-year-old boy, had been complaining of a tummy ache for a month.
His mom, Melissa, concerned about the persistent pain, took Cooper into Instacare on December 20, 2021.
The Insta care physician began the examination. He barely touched Cooper’s abdomen, and then sent him over to the ER for an ultrasound, which revealed a mass the size of a softball in his abdomen. The ER doctor spoke the words no parent ever wants to hear. “Cancer.” They sent Cooper to Primary Children's Hospital for further examination.
During those 5 days, he received several tests and a biopsy of the mass. The results were confirmed and the diagnosis was high-risk/stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. On Christmas Day, Cooper was released from the hospital.
Ten months into his cancer journey, Cooper has spent a total of 115 days (and counting) in the hospital with endurance, strength, and determination. He has done five rounds of intense chemotherapy, undergone a seven-hour surgery to remove the tumor, two bone marrow transplants, twelve cycles of radiation, and three trips to the ICU.
He enjoys playing with cars and Legos with his brothers, Iron Man, Captain America, and Disney’s Luca. He loves to do “superpower slides” with his power wheels. He loves the color blue (dark blue) and has a telescope on his Christmas wish list. His dedicated and loving family has had their lives flipped upside down in an effort to make necessary sacrifices in support of his healing but they are happy to make the sacrifice for Cooper. He thinks of his family often, even offering a heartfelt prayer for his younger brother “please bless him to not get an ear infection.”
Cooper and his family have felt so much love and comfort from those around them. Melissa says, “People are good and we have been so blessed.” Family and friends wear t-shirts to offer support. Cooper says, “they wear my ‘Cooper Strong’ shirts because I'm crushing cancer!"
Now 4 years old, the next step for Cooper will be five rounds of immunotherapy, which includes 5-day hospital stays, once a month, for the five months. Moving forward his family hopes to see the day Cooper is cancer free and can enjoy being a regular kid again. But for now, they are close by as “Cooper Crushes Cancer!”