Bailey was determined to live long enough to be able to do one thing: meet his baby sister.
Nine-year-old Bailey Cooper proved to be the sweetest and strongest big brother anyone could have hoped for. The little British boy fought terminal cancer long enough to meet his baby sister Millie who was born on Nov. 30, 2017. Bailey who battled the disease for 15 months was holding on to meet his sister who he named Millie. Tragically, Bailey died on Christmas Eve, and although his time with his sister was short, he left a huge impact on his family.
His mother Rachel and father Lee told PEOPLE that he smiled all the way through his treatment. “He just managed to hang on, basically. How he did it, we don’t know,” Lee said of his son, adding that he was “smitten” by little Millie. “He’d come into the hospital, he sat down. He was getting quite frail, but he’d come straight in as quick as he could, shuffling his feet. We had to pass Millie to him. He just sat in the chair with Millie in his arms and he wouldn’t let her go." It was a bittersweet time for the family. Lee admitted that “it was amazing, but it was hard to see as well. He was completely smitten by her. The short time he was with her, he would hold her every day. He’d be by her side. He fed her. He bathed her. He changed her. He sang to her every day until he physically couldn’t do it anymore.”
Millie's arrival sparked joy in Bailey who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2016. Bailey was diagnosed with stage three cancer and underwent chemotherapy immediately for a few months before he went into remission in February 2017. Things looked bleak for the young boy but he was determined to hold on till he met his new sibling. Sadly, he passed away on Christmas Eve of 2017. “It’s been really hard without Bailey. It’s been wonderful having Millie around. She’s been helping us deal with what’s happened. It was so hard for [Rachel], her daily routine had completely changed without him,” Lee said. “[I miss his] presence, his cheeky banter, his jokes, the laugh, his company. It’s such a difficult time, but at the same time, you look back and we were lucky to have nine-and-a-half great years with him.”
The couple is determined to keep the little boy's memory alive and will ensure that Millie knows about her big brother. “We tell her about Bailey every day. We show her pictures of him. We’ve got pictures around the house of Bailey. Every time we mention Bailey’s name she points up at a picture,” he shared.
“She knows who he is already. Her face lights up every time she sees a picture of Bailey on our phones. We show her videos. There’s no way she’s ever not going to know who he is. We talk about him every day.”