Suwanee, GA - An upcoming freshman at North Gwinnett High School has lost his battle with an extremely rare form of cancer.
Cooper O’Brien, 14, was diagnosed with Clear Cell Sarcoma in May of last year. The disease is a cross between Melanoma and Sarcoma and attacks soft tissue in the body.
His mother Donna says a sore and swollen lymph node under Cooper’s arm was their first clue that something was wrong. Doctors initially told the family it was a reactive lymph node and nothing to fear. But surgery would prove it to be a rare and very aggressive form of cancer with little options for treatment.
After undergoing radiation, Cooper was scheduled for another surgery last August but doctors found the cancer had spread.
“At that time we found out he was Stage 4, which means that the cancer had spread to his lungs and other parts of his body, and the surgery was cancelled and we had to look at other forms of treatment,” says Donna.
During that time, the community rallied around the Suwanee family holding golf tournaments, carwashes, and other fundraisers to help support the medical costs.
The North Gwinnett High School football team made Cooper honorary captain during the season-opener at the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome where he got to go onto the field and sit on the sidelines.
WSB’s Sandra Parrish got a chance to interview Cooper two weeks ago in preparation for the upcoming WSB Cancer Care-a-thon for the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Even knowing his time might be limited, he still kept a positive attitude.
“Being positive is really the key because when you think negative it tears you down and you just don’t want to do anything--you don’t believe that you’re going to be able to do anything,” said Cooper.
As weak as he was, Cooper was able to complete the CRCT and graduate North Gwinnett Middle School in May.
His father Kevin calls his son a hero.
“He says he looks to us for strength, but I find it in him,” says Kevin.
Visitation for Cooper will be Friday from 2-8pm at Flanigan Funeral Home in Buford. Services will be held Saturday at noon at Shadowbrook Baptist Church in Suwanee.