Last year was a rough year for Kenneth Michael Taylor Hansen, a three-year-old cancer survivor from Carthage.

Last year was a rough year for Kenneth Michael Taylor Hansen, a three-year-old cancer survivor from Carthage.
After spending much of the first two years of his life battling a form of skin cancer, Amanda Cooperrider, Kenneth's mother, said her son is free of the disease, so his third birthday was a great excuse to hold a big celebration.
The Jasper Police Department, along with the area group Four State Ministry Riders, got together to give, Kenneth, who loves police officers and motorcycles, a parade from the King Cash Saver parking lot in Carthage to the Jasper Police Station, where ice cream, cake and presents awaited him.
Jasper Police Officer Matthew Cooperrider, Kenneth's Uncle, gave Kenneth a ride in a police car and motorcycles and a tractor trailer formed the escort.
“He is a big fan of his uncle and he's a big fan of police officers in general, so when the Jasper Police Department decided it was going to do two to three birthdays a month for kids in the Jasper community or Jasper area, I asked if we could do his birthday,” Amanda Cooperrider said. “This is all extra, with the Ministry Riders and everything, and it's amazing.”

Terrible diagnosis
Kenneth is the youngest child of Amanda and Adam Cooperrider. They have two other children, Caraline, 6, and Donavan, 4.
Amanda Cooperrider said their lives all changed in June 2014 when Kenneth and Donavan were playing together and Kenneth hit his face on the floor, bumping his lip.
Instead of healing, the wound got worse, so the family took Kenneth to a doctor, who conducted tests to try to determine what was happening.
On Oct. 5, a hospital in Columbia called the family and said he needed to see Kenneth the next morning in Columbia, but when Amanda asked what was wrong, the person on the phone refused to tell them over the phone.
Amanda said she spent several stressful hours trying to find out what the doctors thought was wring, but kept running into the same answer.
“I spent an hour and a half on the phone trying to find out what was wrong with my son,” Amanda said. “I told them if you need me to come down there, I'll come down and stand in the lobby until someone tells me what's going on with my son. Finally, they said your son has something called rabdomyosarcoma. I said ok, what is that? They said it's cancer. Everything after that, I didn't hear anything she said. I was checked out.”

Kenneth had to be treated at a hospital in Columbia, four hours from Carthage, which changed the family's life completely.
“We spent 11 months going back and forth to Columbia, Missouri, for chemo treatments and radiation treatments,” Amanda Cooperrider said. “He's been hospitalized, from January to December 2016, he was hospitalized 16 different times. And I don't even remember how many times he was hospitalized the year before that.”
During his treatment, Kenneth would sometimes start running a fever. Amanda said doctors considered any fever over 101.5 a life-threatening emergency so they'd have to drive to Columbia to get him to the hospital for treatment.
One time Kenneth had to be taken by helicopter to Columbia — the family received a bill for $55,000 for that service.
Amanda and Adam ended up spending much of 2016 in Columbia so their son could be closer to the hospital.
“It made more sense to stay in Columbia where we're less than five minutes from the hospital,” Amanda Cooperrider said. “So we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. They were amazing. We stayed there off and on last year. We were there for 191 days.”

Cancer free
Amanda said Kenneth is recovering and doing well now, which was reason enough for a big party.
“We still have concerns, but as of right now, he's just a happy, healthy three-year-old little boy who just loves to be outside, loves to give me heart attacks,” Amanda said. “He will dive head first off his bed, and he thinks it's funny. Then I'm like no, you can't do that. He says why? I say, you survived cancer, I don't need you killing yourself by jumping off the bed.”
Amanda said Kenneth recently started staying at daycare and he eats non-stop all day. But the disease is still a threat.
“He's cancer free, however, for the next four years there's a 10 percent chance that it'll come back and more aggressive,” Amanda said. “So we have to go to Columbia every three months for four years to be seen by the doctors up there. Then he'll have to be checked yearly for the rest of his life.”