Brothers from Sudbury share clip of late father's final moments with terminal cancer to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK appeal
Two brothers from Sudbury, who documented the last two years of their late father’s life with terminal cancer, have shared an emotional video of his final moments, in aid of a national awareness campaign.
Marcus and Robin Brooker began filming their dad John in 2018, after they received his blessing upon learning that his bowel cancer – first diagnosed in 2004 – was terminal.
Their project will form an hour-long documentary, titled The Waiting Room, with the goal of breaking down taboos around discussing cancer, and providing a raw account of its impact on people’s lives.
Footage showing the 75-year-old at his home in Sudbury, shortly before his death on May 15 last year, has now been released, to support Cancer Research UK’s appeal, as it faces a huge fundraising shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Media student Marcus, of Bures Road in Little Cornard, said: “For many people, the elephant in the room is cancer. We don’t talk about it enough and, as a nation, we shy away from the topic.
“By not opening up and talking we are shutting the door on something that needs to be shared with the people we love most.
“People with cancer can still have a good quality of life, even if they have been given a terminal diagnosis, and that was exactly the case with my father, right up to his death.
“As a family, we were very open and honest about his prognosis, and that helped us cope during a very difficult and traumatic time.
“It helped break down barriers and allowed us to make the best of the limited time we had left together. It made a huge difference to my father and it lifted a huge emotional burden weighing down on the family.
“We didn’t lose any precious time skirting around issues and, oddly enough, it allowed us to come closer as a family.
“I stopped filming just half-an-hour before my father died and then 10 minutes later I was filming again.
“It was the hardest thing I have had to do, but I knew I had to be faithful to the documentary and also, more importantly, to my father. He wanted me to film his last moments, because that was part of the story and he knew that.
“I hope this film does make a difference to how people talk about cancer and something positive can come out of my father’s death. He was a very brave man, and I’m proud of him for the way he handled his own death and sharing his story.”
The brothers produced a short feature on their father, a retired nursing home manager, for the BBC in 2019.
They plan to release the full film later this year, and hope to have it shown on national television.
In an extract from the documentary, John says: “I’m really one of the lucky ones. It doesn’t get to me very often but, occasionally, I’ll reflect sitting in the garden.
“You have to live for the day, and you have to do things. I get up every morning and think, ‘Another great day. We’re still here.’”
Marcus has also encouraged people to support Cancer Research UK, which has projected a £300million decline in income over the next three years.
“My father had cancer for a very long time but the treatment he received allowed him to spend his last few years still enjoying family life,” he added.
“We now have better detection, diagnosis and treatment and vastly improved survival rates, but fundraising and research must continue.”
Patrick Keely, Cancer Research UK’s Suffolk spokesman, said: “We’re grateful to Marcus and his family for helping to underline the need for continued investment and research at such a difficult time for them.
“The truth is, Covid-19 has slowed us down – but we will never stop.”
To help the charity’s appeal, click here.