'Only cry for 20 minutes': Dying boy's heartbreaking instructions to parents

A nine-year-old boy who was given only weeks to live after learning his cancer had spread throughout his entire body managed to hang on long enough to meet his little sister before tragically passing away.

Bailey Cooper, from Bristol in the UK, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2016, The Bristol Post reports.

He had been complaining of not feeling well, and at first it was thought he might have a chest infection, but further tests brought his parents, Rachel and Lee, the news no-one wants to hear.

By the time Bailey was diagnosed, his cancer was already at stage three.

Bailey Cooper was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2016. Source: Facebook/Lee Cooper
With younger brother Riley. Source: Facebook/Lee Cooper

He began chemotherapy immediately and took steroid medication and early in 2017 he went into remission.

"They thought there were no more signs of the cancer," Lee Cooper told The Bristol Post.

"He had to go in for regular check-ups and routine MRIs every three months, but things were looking up."

Bailey underwent chemotherapy after being diagnosed. Source: Facebook/Lee Cooper

However, by August 2017, Bailey's cancer had become terminal, with doctors telling family there was nothing more that could be done.

He was only expected to live for another few weeks, maybe even days - but Bailey had other ideas.

Bailey Cooper in hospital. Source: Facebook/Lee Coopersize=O

He knew he was dying, but he was determined to hang on long enough to meet his new baby sister, who was due in November.

"We didn't think he would last that long, but he was determined to meet Millie," Rachel Cooper told The Bristol Post.

"It got to the end of November and Millie was born.

Bailey holding newborn baby Millie. Source: Facebook/Lee Cooper

"He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do - change her, wash her, sing to her."

But the cancer was aggressive, and Bailey was getting weaker and weaker.

"By 11.45am on Christmas Eve, we were by his bedside, we knew it was not going to be long," Rachel said.

"We said, 'It's time to go, Bailey. Stop.'

"The minute we said 'stop', he took his last breath and had just the one tear come out of his eye.

"It was peaceful."

Pictured here with little Millie, Bailey Cooper died peacefully on Christmas Eve. Source: Facebook/Lee Cooper

Bailey left behind two devastated parents, his little sister Millie and younger brother Riley, 6.

Poignantly, not long before he died, Bailey told his parents: "you're only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Millie."

"We are numb," father Lee Cooper said.

"But in a way, we're also happy he is no longer in pain."