The summer of 2009 started out very ordinary for the Cooper family and their five year -old son. Josh, an energetic, inquisitive boy who loved sports, kept his parents busy with his passion for football, wrestling, baseball, soccer and basketball. It was that love of sports and a seemingly normal day of tee-ball practice that changed the Cooper family forever.
It was early June when Josh began losing his normal zest for life and complaining about back pain. While concerned, it wasn't until they witnessed Josh struggling to stand for tee-ball team pictures, that the Coopers realized something was seriously wrong. Gary Cooper, Josh's dad, took his son to a local urgent care center that afternoon and left with a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection. By the next evening, the state of Josh's health had declined further. Once active and energetic, Josh was no longer able to walk and continued to lose energy. Not satisfied with the previous day's diagnosis, Josh's parents took him to their local emergency room where doctors ran multiple tests and an MRI. On that fateful day, doctors found a cancerous tumor on Josh's spine and airlifted him to Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, where doctors performed emergency surgery to remove the tumor. Within days of his diagnosis, Josh had undergone multiple surgeries, during which a second tumor was found in his chest.
To care for their son, Josh's parents had to take leaves of absence from their jobs while Josh endured months of intense chemotherapy and surgeries. The tumor on Josh's spine left him paralyzed which required months of inpatient rehab and outpatient physical therapy in order to learn to walk again.
The strain of watching their son fight cancer eventually led the Coopers to the NCCS. Since then, the Coopers have received much needed financial support to cover meals, gas and hotel accommodations while Josh had appointments out of town. In addition to financial assistance, the Coopers emphasized that the emotional support the NCCS provided was as important, and, at times, even more important, than the financial.
Despite being sick, Josh worked hard to establish a normal life and attended kindergarten as much as possible. "He has been off and running ever since," said Gary. Although Josh is not yet cancer free, he continues to inspire and amaze everyone around him with his strength, courage and enthusiasm toward life.