Bradley Cooper opened up about the loss of his father during a star studded gala celebrating the launch of tech guru Sean Parker’s new cancer research foundation.
Cooper was joined by celebs like John Legend, Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry and Sean Penn for the Parker Foundation’s launch of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, hosted at the Napster founder’s Los Angeles home. The Hollywood crowd celebrated the announcement of a $250 million grant to begin funding for the institute and its groundbreaking research.
Cooper, whose father died from cancer in 2011, gave an emotional speech about his loss and his hopes for the foundation.
“I just want to tell you about my father Charles J. Cooper, he passed away from lung cancer in 2011,” Cooper began. “I was in a very lucky position because I was able to put everything on hold in all aspects of my life and completely focus on taking care of him.”
But even with the resources at his disposal, the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 star described the process of treating his father’s cancer as “just simply overwhelming, incredibly stressful, complex and all consuming.”
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He continued, “I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it is for those patients and the families that are less fortunate than I was that simply can’t afford to pay for both treatment and rent.”
Cooper then promised that in the next several months, he and Parker will launch a new initiative to help ease the burden on both patients and their families so that they can focus on treatment. “My hope is that one day every person fighting cancer will receive the full support they need to maintain their quality of life from the day of diagnosis to the end of their treatment regardless of economic or social status,” he said.
The actor went on to speak about Emily Whitehead, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 5. “She was just a normal little girl who loved to laugh, paint her nails with her mom, swim,” Cooper explained.
Doctors tried everything to help Whitehead, but nothing worked. Two years after her diagnosis, her parents enrolled her in an experimental treatment program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The procedure had never been tested on a child, “but Emily’s mom and dad insisted that they wanted her to be the first,” Cooper said.
As of 2012, Whitehead has been in remission. “She was so brave to take this risk and in the years to come it is with the Parker Institute wants to offer every patient and their family more chances to try ground breaking treatments that will help them live a full and healthy life like Emily,” Cooper concluded.
Speaking on what the night meant to him, Parker told reports, “It s incredibly gratifying but in some ways, the work begins tonight. This is the start. And hopefully 20 years from now we re going to look back and cancer isn t going to be this scary thing; it’s not going to be a death sentence.”