The man behind East Cambridgeshire’s most popular local media page has decided to go public about his heartbreaking prognosis, using Facebook Live to tell his friends he has terminal cancer.
But rather than dwell on his devastating news, Spotted in Ely founder and editor Mark Cooney says he plans to use his remaining time to “make memories” – including marrying his longterm partner, Alison Powell.
On Sunday afternoon, Mark – who turns 50 on Wednesday – told his friends and family he had “incurable” cancer, during an emotional Facebook Live broadcast.
Speaking afterwards, Mark said: “No one wants to deliver bad, or least the worst news with a few words on a FB status and I only have my dearest friends I know on my friends so I kept it close.
“With times as they are I couldn’t travel to see them all so this seemed like the next best solution. I didn’t think it was going to be hard but it was. I have an amazing circle of friends and each and every one has been fully supportive for me and also for Alison. The video was viewed several hundred times.”
At the end Mark finished with the poignant message: “I love you all. Please go and find somebody you care about and haven’t spoken to for a while… Tell them how much you appreciate being their friend or family member. Take care of yourselves.”
The father of two describes the past week as a “rollercoaster”, having previously been told that the tumour in his bladder could be cured during a phone consultation. Late on Tuesday, he received a phonecall to come into Addenbrooke’s Hospital the following day, to meet a clinical specialist.
“I did indeed meet her but it wasn’t to start the treatment, it was to be told that further investigations had shown it had spread and is now incurable. My concern in that room was not for me, but telling Alison who sat outside in the car.
“I didn’t mess about telling her and after a cry and hug she asked for one wish – that we got married.
“Since Wednesday we’ve told all our immediate family and friends, lots of tears but lots of cheers too at the thought of us getting married. It has certainly made it easier.”
Over the years, Mark and Alison have helped livestream countless events from Ely Cathedral to Spotted in Ely’s 26,000 plus followers, as well as broadcasting events for the cathedral itself.
So Ely Cathedral, which dates back to Saxon times, is the perfect backdrop for the couple’s wedding – with Dean Mark Bonney and Canon James Reveley pulling out the stops to ensure the marriage takes place as soon as possible.
Les and Verity, who run the Ely Veterans Breakfast Club, will be best man and maid of honour, while Mark’s daughters, Annie-May and Summer, will be bridesmaids.
The couple’s Labrador, Ellie of Ely (famous in her own right), will be the ring bearer.
Due to Covid restrictions, only four guests will be allowed to attend, although the ceremony will be live-streamed on Facebook. There will also be a Blessing Day in Wales for Alison’s family once Covid restrictions are eased.
Mark said he’s managing to stay “very positive”, focusing on making every day count.
“We’ve a lot to look forward to with the wedding and the chance to make memories for ourselves. I have been told it’s best I no longer work – in earnest it’s a huge relief and means we can plan days away when times allow, which hopefully will be soon.”
Mark is determined that Spotted in Ely will continue, with major annoucements due in the coming days.
Close friend Sally Bibby has set up a GoFundMe page to help Mark and Alison make precious memories and assist with Mark’s cancer treatment. Any extra money raised will go towards Spotted in Ely’s future costs.
Mark said: “When Sally asked if she could do a Go Fund Me, I was hesitant. We’ve never really asked for much but when just 18 hours later, it’s at over £2600, we were blown away.
“We have amazing people who know how to act when called upon. I love everyone of the donors.”
You can donate at: http://www.gofundme.com/f/help-mark-from-spotted-in-ely-to-make-memories
Written by Tali Iserles