JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The last thing 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis or his wife, Kaitlyn, thought when they brought their son, Mackston, to the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas emergency room two weeks ago was the possibility that the couple’s only child had cancer or a potentially life-threating illness.
The couple figured maybe Mack, who turns 2 years old in May, had come down with a stomach bug or simply needed an antibiotic seeing as Mack had been becoming increasingly lethargic.
However, within five minutes into the emergency room exam on Feb. 19 and the couple was franticly being rushed to another room. Mack’s hemoglobin levels had dropped to extremely low levels, and he needed to undergo further testing and a blood transfusion immediately.
“It is weird to think,” Cooper said. “You are sitting there praying to God saying, ‘Take me. Don’t take him.’ I am sitting here acting like my kid is getting ready for a heart transplant. I am ready to give him my heart.
“He is what I live for. When you go in there, and they are rushing you back, all of these thoughts start running through your head. ‘What could possibly be going wrong?’ You start thinking maybe this is something we could have caught before, but there was just no signs.”
Doctors first thought maybe Mack had leukemia.
“We were really concerned that he may have leukemia, at first,” Cooper said. “That was our main concern. That is a terrible feeling of having to worry about your kid like that.”
Tests eventually revealed that Mack, who has recovered and is back to being his jovial self, was suffering from transient erythroblastopenia of childhood and is cancer free.
The condition is commonly referred to as TEC, and it is a slowly developing anemia that occurs in early childhood and is characterized by a gradual onset of pallor and fatigue.
Mack’s bone marrow had quit producing red blood cells, and he underwent four blood transfusions in a span of a day and a half at the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
“I feel like I have a bachelor’s degree in this as much as we have looked things up and asked questions,” Cooper explained. “After they did 20-something tests, they figured out it was TEC, which is a five-in-a-million deal, but it is better alternative.”
The Davis’ got good news this past week during a follow-up appointment at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
“Everything was good,” Cooper said. “His bone marrow was producing the red blood cells again. Basically, it is a one-time deal, and he is good to go for now on. We have to go back for a check-up in two weeks, and, if everything is good, then we won’t have to go back.”
Davis had missed THE AMERICAN to be with his family when they made the decision to take Mack to the hospital. He then skipped last weekend’s Bass Pro Chute Out, presented by Cooper Tires, to be with his son before the follow-up appointment.
It was a no-brainer decision for Davis. He has always valued his family over his bull riding career and that wasn’t going to change for a chance at $100,000.
Davis is currently eighth in the world standings and is set to return to competition this weekend at the Jacksonville Invitational on Saturday night.
“I could have went to St. Louis, and it would have been fine,” Davis said. “I just couldn’t see myself going there after the week he had, having to get poked and prodded. I didn’t want to stress him out any more than he had already been stressed out. I don’t know. All of the bull riding and stuff can be on the back burner. It is not a big deal to me.”
The Davis’ have been holding Mack a little extra tight these days following their harrowing weekend in Dallas.
It was a reminder to Cooper – a first-time and extremely proud parent – just how quickly things can change.
“There is a good chance, if we didn’t take him there, he could have died,” Cooper said. “That is a pretty surreal deal when you are sitting there on a cancer unit floor and there are other kids. As terrible as this was for us, those kids didn’t get to go home that day, and we did. So it was really a take time, sit back and be thankful this was the case.
“It just makes you want to go in there and give those other families a hug. You don’t know really all what they are going through, but you have an idea.”
The Davis’s have kept fans up-to-date with Mack’s progress on social media, but Cooper wanted to say thank you once again to the endless amount of messages and support the family has received.
“Mack probably has more of a fan base than I do,” Cooper said. “There is no telling how many people reached out with messages saying they were praying for us. I had hundreds and hundreds of messages. We are big believers in prayer. It is not something I could have expected. To have that much feedback. It was pretty cool to see how concerned everyone was.”
During his phone interview on Thursday night, Cooper was on his couch at home in Texas watching Mickey Mouse with Mack laughing in the background.
Almost every morning, Mack sits up in his bed, stretches out his arms and says, ‘All the Way Up’ in reference to his daddy’s bull riding song.
“That is the first thing he says in the morning when he wakes up,” Cooper said with a laugh. He gets on his rocking horse and tips his hat. He loves bull riding.”
Bull riding was far from Cooper’s mind in the past two weeks, but Cooper knows Mack is ready for dad to make 8 seconds in Jacksonville.
“Kaitlyn and I are blessed that it was this TEC thing and we still have our little man here,” Cooper concluded. “I know that my kid is healthy. Whatever happens with the bull riding is just a bonus. If I don’t have him here, I really don’t have any reason to do anything.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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