Super Cooper: Warren Central rallies behind Cooper Jamison during cancer battle

Published 6:05 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

There were 34 golfers competing in the Warren Central Invitational golf tournament. The most popular one was the guy who shot 111 and finished 25th.

Cooper Jamison, a Warren Central seventh-grader, has been battling a cancerous brain tumor for three years. He’ll have surgery next week in Jackson, and Thursday’s tournament at Vicksburg Country Club was far more a show of support and love from his friends, coaches and teammates than it was the next event on the high school schedule.

Warren Central’s golfers all wore gray T-shirts — the color for brain cancer — with a ”#SuperCooper” logo.

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On Monday, Warren Central’s baseball team will take its turn. Before the eighth- and ninth-grade doubleheader against Clinton, which begins at 5 p.m., Cooper will throw out the first pitch to his older brother Tristan and a number of players are planning to shave their heads in support.

On Tuesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., Woodlawn Baptist Church will have a come-and-go prayer service for Cooper in its sanctuary. The church is located at 2310 Culkin Rd.

“They all make him feel very special. We could not do it without them,” said Cooper’s mother, Tiffany Jamison. “Cooper would not be doing as well as he is without those coaches and those teammates. They’ve become like brothers. I can’t thank them enough. Thank you is not enough. We’re just so appreciative and grateful for everyone.”

A frightening diagnosis
Cooper Jamison is a good student, and in second grade he started having trouble in school that was difficult to understand. He could read well, but had difficulty comprehending it.

Cooper’s teacher called his mother and asked about him. She had given an assignment in which students simply had to describe a drawing on a piece of paper. Cooper could see it, but couldn’t comprehend what it was.
He underwent tests for ADHD and treatment for a learning disorder, but his struggles continued.

“I knew something was wrong in second grade,” Tiffany said. “Everybody said he was a great student, but by the time I get him at home he was not reading. He wasn’t a behavior problem. He was a great kid. He was just different.”

Eventually, Cooper’s learning difficulties spread to physical issues. His eyes weren’t tracking things, and when playing baseball, he had a hard time catching the ball.

“Cooper was always a great outfielder. He could always catch the ball. And he would fall over trying to catch the ball. He couldn’t catch anymore,” Tiffany said. “People would think he was trying to showboat or look cool, trying to make a diving catch. I asked him about that one day and he said, ‘No! I’m sick of people saying that, Mom! I can’t help it, I fell.’ I knew something was not right.”

A health screening at Bovina Elementary School led to concern that Cooper might have a lazy eye. Tiffany, putting all of the other clues together, feared something worse and asked her pediatrician to do an MRI exam of Cooper’s brain.

The results showed the worst — a cancerous tumor.

“The hardest part was finding out. My husband picked me up and we went to pick up Cooper from school. He was like, ‘Why are you picking me up early?’ and we had to tell him he had a brain tumor. His first question was, ‘Am I going to die?’” Tiffany said. “It was very hard to be strong for him, but I think we did an OK job. Right now, I feel like I’m just floating. I’m just here. We get from day to day before this surgery. It’s just hard to process.”

The next steps
Cooper was diagnosed with an infiltrating astrocytoma. It is a cancer that is hard to detect and even harder to remove because it blends with normal brain tissue.

It’s unusual to find astrocytomas in children, which played a part in Cooper’s delayed diagnosis. Doctors simply weren’t looking for it.

“Nobody thought it was this type of cancer, because the type he has, has tentacles that intertwine in the brain. When you open up the brain, it looks just like brain,” Tiffany said. “It’s hard to know what you’re getting, and if you’re even getting it all.”

Cooper was supposed to have surgery on the tumor in Boston on April 7, 2020, but it was canceled at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wound up having it in Jackson that July.

Because the cancerous and healthy tissue are mixed, however, it’s difficult if not impossible to know if all of it was removed. So on Wednesday, Cooper will undergo a second procedure in Jackson.

Doctors will drill a hole in Cooper’s skull and put electrodes on his brain. They will monitor his reactions to various stimuli, such as people talking to him or small movements, to see if they can detect the location of cancerous tissue.

If the cancer is in a place where it can be safely removed, doctors will do so.

“It’s just tricky to know if they get it all,” Tiffany said.

Tiffany added that, while the situation is obviously difficult to deal with, she was thankful there are treatment options available.

“At least we know what kind we’re dealing with. We have a name for it, and there’s options right now,” she said. “Until they say, ‘No options,’ that’s when I’ll be worried. But right now we have options. There’s still things that they’re doing.”

An outpouring of love
Although Cooper has been sick for several years, it hasn’t diminished his ability or desire to stay active.

He has been going to school and attending classes. He’s a manager for Warren Central’s baseball and football teams and has played in several golf tournaments this spring. He wants to play football as well, but Tiffany said doctors won’t let him for obvious reasons.

Thursday’s golf tournament at Vicksburg Country Club was his last for this season, but he plans to play again in 2024.

“He has taken a liking to golf. He’s played a little bit of golf for fun and he likes it, but other than that he’s never played in a tournament,” Tiffany said. “I called Coach (Matt) Williams and asked him if he could play and he said sure. He told Coach Williams yesterday, ‘I’ll be back better next year.’”

Just being part of a team and around his friends has helped Cooper immensely, Tiffany added.

“He struggles in sports, but he’s still playing,” she said. “I want him to always have that team, because they help him to get through it for sure. It’s not just a game to us. It’s definitely the relationships that are made. These boys are close.”

Close enough to go all out in support of their friend as he heads into the hospital.

Several members of Warren Central’s eighth- and ninth-grade baseball teams said they planned to shave their heads before Monday’s game.

“A few of us are. Some of them are chickening out,” Tristan Jamison, Cooper’s brother, said.

Proceeds from the concession stand at Monday’s game will go to the Jamison family, and there will also be a donation bucket set up. Warren Central coach Derrick DeWald said at least one other school is planning to make a donation as well.

“We just wanted to make him feel special,” DeWald said.

Cooper will throw out the first pitch to Tristan, who will play in the eighth-grade game.

“He said, ‘They’re doing that for me?’ I said, ‘Yes, Cooper, people love you. So many people love you.’ He said, ‘I know they do.’” Tiffany said. “Then he asked, ‘What if I don’t throw it far? I may try to throw it where Tristan can’t catch it.’”

From golf to baseball to church, it’s the Week of Cooper. It’s a celebration for a young man who means the world to a lot of people, and the love the community is showing him and his family is definitely mutual.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotions. It can be very dark and lonely, especially when you’re at a hospital watching your child go through this,” Tiffany said. “Just having the support of friends and a team, and our church and the prayers. … we couldn’t do it without them. It’s what gets him through, is these boys and these coaches.”

• Clinton at Warren Central (8th and 9th grade baseball)
• Monday, 5 p.m.
• Proceeds from the concession stand will go to the family of Cooper Jamison. Cooper is a seventh-grader at Warren Central who will undergo surgery next week for a cancerous brain tumor.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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