Brothers release emotional video of their father just before he died of cancer

Sam Russell, PA
·3-min read

Two brothers who filmed their father dying of cancer have honoured his wishes by releasing footage of him being nursed an hour before his death.

Marcus and Robin Brooker’s father John Brooker was told in 2018 that his bowel cancer was incurable.

Graduate Marcus, 24, whose degree was in film, said that his father gave his blessing for him and 26-year-old Robin to film him right up until his death to make a documentary.

Retired nursing home manager Mr Brooker died at the family home in Sudbury, Suffolk, in May last year aged 75.

John Brooker was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and told in 2018 that it was incurable. (Cancer Research UK/ PA)
John Brooker was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and told in 2018 that it was incurable (Cancer Research UK/ PA)

The pair hope to release their full documentary, running to around an hour, this summer and have released a five-minute short containing some of their footage.

The full documentary, called The Waiting Room, aims to break through the “taboo of discussing terminal illness”, Marcus said.

Their five-minute video, released this week, outlines some of their reasons for wanting to make the documentary and contains footage of Mr Brooker being nursed by his 50-year-old wife Fleur around an hour before his death.

The family is backing Cancer Research UK’s appeal to help tackle a loss of research funding caused by Covid-19 and hope the film will help raise awareness of the need for the charity’s work.

John Brooker's sons Robin, 26, and 24-year-old Marcus made a documentary about him, filming right up until his death. (Cancer Research UK/ PA)
John Brooker’s sons Robin, 26, and 24-year-old Marcus made a documentary about him, filming right up until his death (Cancer Research UK/ PA)

Marcus said his father was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 but “spent many happy years as an integral part of our family”.

“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,” he said.

“As a family, we were very open and honest about his diagnosis and 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.

He went on: “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.”

He said that people do not talk about cancer enough, adding: “By not opening up and talking, we are shutting the door on something that needs to be shared with the people we love most.”

His father’s life was prolonged thanks to cancer research, he said, adding that better treatment gave his father extra quality time with his family.

To donate to Cancer Research UK, see www.cruk.org/give.