A Brotherly Love: The Henson family’s battle against cancer


Chris Van Kleeck, Sports Writer

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. It’s inevitable, but the only thing that can really be controlled is your reaction to the situation.
Last March, senior Parker Henson would receive news that would change his life forever; his little brother Cooper (13) was diagnosed with bone cancer (Ewing’s Sarcoma) in his knee.
Up until then Parker had been extremely involved in extracurriculars—being a member of NHS, the varsity football team as well as the lacrosse team. After the diagnosis some of those things were no longer realistic ways for Parker to spend his free time.
“There were countless little things I had to quit, but the main thing I had to put off in order to support Cooper was football. I couldn’t give my 100% to the team not knowing how much time my little brother had left,” Parker said.
“In the past we didn’t really get along, but after the diagnosis he became my best friend and everything I did was for him. All my free time was spent with him whether it was watching TV, playing games with him or simply being in his presence,” Parker said.
Parker also shaved his head to support his brother at the beginning of his chemo treatments.
“The decision to cut my hair was difficult but well worth it. I had grown my hair out pretty long for almost three years and having it all cut off was hard but something I could do to show my support. I have no regrets about it because I ended up donating my hair to make wigs,” Parker said.
For Cooper, his day to day norm had also been altered.
“I didn’t have a social life, I couldn’t go to school—my closest friends were the small group at the church. Seeing them twice a week made me feel normal again and helped me build a closer relationship with God,” Cooper said.
Since he couldn’t attend school, a certified WS/FCS teacher stationed at Brenner Children’s Hospital named Jamie Bargoil helped Cooper remotely complete the 7th grade and half of his 8th grade year.
The tumor on Cooper’s left knee would require a three-month chemotherapy plan, surgery removing over 10 inches of bone, a prosthetic knee cap and a year of fighting.
“When I first found out, I was devastated, scared, hopeless, angry and overwhelmed. Those emotions are only surface level descriptions. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s like I wanted to explode on the inside,” Cooper said.
During the recovery process their parents had to stay overnight with Cooper at the hospital as many as five nights a week. Parker ended up having to take care of himself, and provide his own meals and needs.
“Since my parents own a business together the other parent who wasn’t in the hospital had to work so I depended on myself a lot,” Parker said.
Finally, nine long months since the first diagnosis; good news finally came. Cooper Henson was cancer free.
“My life was/is changed forever. You can look at it two ways. Either that it sucks, or it is a gift. A gift to do good and achieve great things. My story is remarkable and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my future,” Cooper said.
Although his condition prevents him from participating in most physical activity, Coach Williams of the soccer team has already offered Cooper an opportunity to be the team’s manager when he is a freshman at West Forsyth next year. Cooper also hopes to join the school’s training staff as he hopes to go into athletic/medical training.