A three-headed mother from East Hull spoke of the devastating diagnosis her fiancé had made, and why she had to marry seven months earlier than planned.

Debbie Cooper, 45, was shocked to learn that her eleven-year-old partner, Mark, 47, was suffering from a life-threatening illness and was living for a maximum of two years.

In August 2018, Mr. Cooper began to feel uncomfortable returning home from a family vacation and was screened for stroke symptoms, but his health continued to deteriorate. In May, doctors told him that he had motor neurone disease.

"Mark has always been a fit and healthy man and cycled every weekend and played golf and even played for Hull City," said Mrs. Cooper.

"But Mark began to feel uncomfortable after returning from vacation last August, he felt weird and in pain and sounded dull and drunk as he talked, he was examined and the doctors thought he had a stroke, but was treated for it and got worse.

Mark and Debbie with Mark's step-children Elise, 19, Sam, 16 and Harley, 12
Mark and Debbie with Mark's step-children Elise, 19, Sam, 16 and Harley, 12

"He lost a lot of weight and began to google his symptoms, he already had an idea of ​​what it might be, but he did not want to scare me." When Mark returned to the hospital and learned that he was suffering from motor neurone disease, It was just the worst news, as there is no cure.

"For us, it was only one thing at a time … I lost my father to cancer in February, which was horrible and very difficult to deal with, and Mark was released 26 years before his diagnosis and then had to find other work.

"But then he was told that after his diagnosis, he could not work anymore when he fell and broke his ribs at work, and that was really good for him since he worked all his life.

"The diagnosis was devastating and it was something that I thought happened to other people but that would never happen to our family.

"If Mark was told that he has cancer, I could handle it because both of my parents died of cancer so I can understand it better, and at least there are some cures for cancer, but MND is incurable.

Debbie and Mark have been together for 11 years

"I've linked the disease to Stephen Hawking, there's no medication for it, and after all, Mark may not be able to feed himself and needs a stash to eat and a wheelchair if he stops and even has a special board to talk to talking is always harder for him. "

The diagnosis was difficult for the family to manage and Ms. Cooper says she still has not "invaded" her. Her 15-year-old son learned of his stepfather's illness at the same time as he took off his GCSEs, but was still able to hold his own in his exams.

Given that Mr. Cooper was no longer able to walk and speak, the couple decided to pursue their wedding and honeymoon to ensure that he was still fit enough to go down the island and take his vows.

The day was bittersweet for the couple, but both enjoyed their day and family vacation in Turkey, doubling as a honeymoon.

Observe: What is Motoneuron Disease?

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"We were booked to marry in February of next year, but the doctors advised us to do this sooner than later, because Mark would have trouble getting his words out if we left by then, so we've got the wedding moved this July, "said Mrs. Cooper.

"It was a fabulous but emotional day, we were both already married, but this time the wedding was all we wanted and more, my 12 year old son betrayed me because I lost both parents and that in itself was emotional ,

"The registrar was told about the illness of Mark's illness before the ceremony, and they were made aware that he was incomprehensible with his speech and his effort to compose a complete sentence, but they were truly understanding and gave us both vows in two words Blocks.

"The speeches were also very emotional as we were at the wedding seven months earlier and everyone knew why.

Debbie and Mark got married seven months earlier
Debbie and Mark got married seven months earlier

"Mark was shaken in the end and we had to go to bed early, but the day itself was amazing and just as happy as it was sad."

Now they are collecting money to turn the basement of their house into a wet room and to build a bedroom for Mr. Cooper, since at some point it will be impossible for him to come up the stairs.

It also requires an extension at the back of the house and a ramp attachment to allow access for wheelchair users.

Many tradespeople, friends and family members have volunteered to participate in the work, and former Hull City players from Mr Cooper's time from 1988 to 1991 have agreed on a charity football game to raise money.

However, the Coopers are keen to raise another £ 1,000 in donations for the parts needed.

"We're a strong family, but it can still be bad, I try to be positive for everyone, but I know things are starting to get worse, so we want to get this job done before Mark gets too sick.

Debbie and Mark Cooper
Debbie and Mark Cooper

"I now look after Mark during the day and changed my shift at Asda to night work, and now that Mark can not work anymore, we get some benefits, but it's really hard to adjust, as we've always worked all our lives to have.

"Mark is a proud man and does not want to ask for charity, but we do not have the money for any home adjustments.

"Every little bit of help and everything we can afford is unbelievable – I'm embarrassed to ask for money, but it's my only option and it's difficult, but I have to do it to give Mark the quality of life that he needs."

Click here to donate to Cooper.

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