DES MOINES, Iowa -It is great to have a brother. “We argue a lot, we fight a lot. We get in trouble, but sometimes we just get along really well,” said Cooper Wendland, 10.
It is especially great to have a twin. “It’s fun, like he said, sometimes it’s not so fun…but,” Jaxson Wendland, also 10, said while getting choked up.
A couple years ago Cooper and Jaxson learned just how important the relationship can be. “It’s harder than most people think because before I didn’t know what cancer was, what the word meant,” said Jaxson.
Cooper was diagnosed with B-Cell ALL, a type of Leukemia, in July of 2016. Mom Stacie Wendland said, “It was very surprising. One of the questions I asked is, do we need to worry about Jaxson possibly developing this because his twin brother has it.”
Dad Jeff Wendland added, “They said there’s really no research or anything to tell he’s more or less susceptible to getting leukemia, just because his brother has it.”
Cooper started his 3 and a half year treatment right away. “It was really hard for me because at the start of my treatment I was at high risk, and I was like ut-oh,” he said.
Jaxson watched him go through it. “So like he had a spinal headache and when I came into the hospital, I couldn’t play with him.”
Cooper is now in the maintenance phase of his treatment and considered cancer free.
“I’ve been really starting to get back to my normal self,” said Cooper.
As he gets back to his new normal, his family is raising money for research. Their group called Cooper’s Troopers will participate in Light the Night Sunday, September 30th at Principal Park. The event is from 5:30 to 8:30 and raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Stacie said, “What’s really nice about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a lot of the funds they give do stay in the Iowa area.”
“There was a $400,000 research grant just given to two doctors at the University of Iowa. They also had almost a million dollars given in the last fiscal year to help families that have blood and cancer disorders in the Iowa area.”
Cooper has a message for those fighting. “Keep fighting your hardest. Don’t let cancer take away anything you had from before you had cancer and always know people are fundraising for you, and just don’t let cancer take away the things you’re good at.”