Brothers release emotional documentary of father's last days after battle with cancer

John Brooker sadly died in May 2020 aged 75. 

John Brooker sadly died from bowel cancer in May 2020 aged 75. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

Two Suffolk brothers have honoured their father’s dying wish by releasing an emotional video of his final moments, just minutes before he died from bowel cancer.

John Brooker was sadly told in 2018 that his cancer was incurable but decided to give his two sons Marcus and Robin permission to make a documentary showing his last days. 

Graduate Marcus, 24, whose degree was in film, created the film with his 26-year-old brother, Robin, up until their father's death at the family home in Sudbury,  in May last year.

The retired nursing home manager was 75 years old when he died.

The Brooker family from left to right, Fleur, Marcus, Robin, Ben and John with daughter-in-law Becky. 

The Brooker family from left to right, Fleur, Marcus, Robin, Ben and John with daughter-in-law Becky. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

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

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.

Most Read

"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.

Robin Brooker, left, with his brother Marcus. The pair made a film of their dad's last days as he battle bowel cancer. 

Robin Brooker, left, with his brother Marcus. The pair made a film of their dad's last days as he battle bowel cancer. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

"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."

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 sadly lost a 16-year battle with bowel cancer in 2020. 

John Brooker sadly lost a 16-year battle with bowel cancer in 2020. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

Marcus added: "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 here.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus