Lincoln couple take on Santa Run in memory of sister-in-law

Childhood sweethearts Chris and Alie Brooker

A Lincolnshire couple who lost their sister-in-law to cancer in 2014 have been raising vital funds for the hospice that cared for her

Julie Marshall, 58 and Simon Marshall, 57 both from Navenby raised £1,140 when they ran the Danwood Lincoln Santa Run on Sunday 14th December 2014.

The couple took on the challenge to raise money for St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice where their sister-in-law, Alie Brooker died, aged 47, on 17th February 2014.

Julie said: “It was so important for us to be able to give something back to the organisation that had cared for Alie, when she had needed it most. The Santa Run was a fitting tribute to a woman who was bubbly, outgoing and so full of life.”

The mum of four had spent her last few weeks being cared for at the hospice which supported her husband and children aged 12, 14, 19 and 22, during her illness. The hospice had also extended its support to the rest of Alie’s family and her close friends.

Husband Chris Brooker, 50, said:

“Alie’s diagnosis came completely out of the blue. It was New Year’s Eve 2013 and Alie was in the hospital to have her arm looked at following an incident involving her power steering belt snapping on her car. An x-ray soon revealed that Alie had broken her humerus bone plus she had fractures to her ribs and hip area.

“These injuries were inconsistent with Alie’s accident which was one with no trauma attached to it. It was then that the Doctors revealed their suspicions; Alie could have cancer. In a matter of days our worse fears were confirmed by the results of a biopsy.

“It was then that Alie was diagnosed with secondary bone cancer. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Alie had always been in good health and apart from the pain in her arm there hadn’t been any symptoms.”

Alie and Chris had been together for 33 years and married for 26 years. They had met when Alie was only 15 and had built their lives together.

“Up to this point I hadn’t told our children about the cancer because Alie and I had wanted to sit down with them and tell them together at home, alongside the rest of the family. Alie was put on a course of treatment of radiotherapy and suffered severe side effects that made her extremely unwell and further weakened her already brittle bones.

“With Alie too poorly to return home I took the decision to tell our children myself. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I had to tell them. It just wasn’t fair to leave them in the dark for one day longer.”

Alie’s health continued to deteriorate and after only three weeks in the hospital Chris was given the news he had been dreading.

“The Doctor told me Alie’s cancer was far more aggressive than they had first thought. Her body was struggling under the strain of the cancer and the treatment. It was then they delivered the worst news of all; Alie had only hours or at best days left to live.

“I was utterly shocked. The wind was completely knocked out of me. It was as though I had found myself trapped in a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. They hadn’t told Alie yet and even though I knew it would be difficult, she had to hear the news from me. After all Alie was my wife, the love of my life, my best friend and my soul mate.

“Alie reacted incredibly well to the news, she was such a strong character and that was apparent now more than ever. I was awe struck by her bravery and how she was managing to face this devastating news head on.”

Chris was familiar with the services of his local hospice and Alie was admitted into the care of St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice on 24th January 2014.

Chris said: “After only a short while at St Barnabas Alie’s condition improved considerably and her spirits lifted. I accredit this to the expert care she was receiving from the specialist team who are experienced enough to know how to look after someone at the end of their life.

“The team of staff and volunteers demonstrated such sincere compassion and even set up a bed in Alie’s room for me because they understood that I couldn’t be away from her for a single second.

“St Barnabas always cared for Alie with the utmost dignity and respect. We always felt like Alie was a priority and nothing was ever too much trouble. The hospice team were always sensitive to how the family was feeling and they were always there to support each and every one of us.

“Alie was keen to have certain things in order with regard to her funeral and where her final resting place would be. I know she was comforted somewhat by having these plans in place. She didn’t want to be involved with the rest of her funeral arrangements but knew we would do her proud and everybody did.”

Alie Brooker died in the hospice on 17th February aged 47.

Chris said: “The end came quite quickly for Alie. She became very weak and deteriorated suddenly. I called our children and family who rushed to be by her bedside and they were able to see her one final time.

“When Alie took her final breath, it was just me and her alone; it was a very private and very painful moment. But it’s how she wanted it, how we both wanted it.

“I think it is a common misconception that people go to the hospice to die. Yes Alie died in the hospice but because of them we were able to share four more precious weeks together. It was time we never thought we’d have.”

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