Of Final Days

Mark ended his account of his tremendous and inspiring battle against advanced malignant melanoma with his last optimistic Happy New Year post.

I now need to tell you the desperately sad news that Mark died on Thursday 19th January 2017.  The last 16 days of his life were spent at The Royal Marsden Hospital where he received superb care.

On the 4th January Mark was given the news that there was no more treatment that could stabilise his cancer.  When asked by one of his consultants if he would like to stay, he said confidently:

Why not? This is the best hospital in the world and I am your favourite patient. Why would I go anywhere else?

Mark always had the ability to draw people in and even in the last days of his life made a huge impact on everyone who met him for the first time having already had a profound effect on the melanoma team who have looked after him for 23 months. His closest friends came in to see him and between us all we made sure he never had time alone.

We as a family are in awe of Mark’s courage and selfless attitude until the very end when he was losing both sight and hearing. As a final example, Mark made a brave announcement on social media telling the world he was about to die and setting a target of raising £100,000 for Cancer Research UK. Within 24 hours the total rose from £73,000 to well over this figure and the fund is still rising.

I know he would want me to thank all of you; his friends, wider family and followers who have lived each minute of this with him.

Mark died in peace and dignity surrounded by love.

We, his family and Georgie are so grateful for the way the staff at the hospital enabled us to do something I never thought possible, to come away with beautiful memories of this final chapter of Mark’s life.

The blog will remain online. Mark worked hard in the last few months to write a book based on his blog entries and to also tell more of his story prior to February 2015. Please look in from time to time for updates. The book will be published by Poetry Space, my own company by the end of this year and I plan to do a great job for Mark. He wants the book to continue to enhance the message about cancer and melanoma in particular.

Sue Sims (Mark’s mum)

Georgie has asked for this message to be included here:

Watching my 28 year old fiancé cruelly robbed of his sight, hearing, swallowing, walking, speech, along with any chance of a future was heartbreaking and wrong. He still managed to be so caring of others around him, worrying that he had not replied to messages or that we would hurt our backs when we stretched his legs.

In his final hours he was surrounded by all of us, we held his hand and kissed him. He passed away and we sang his favourite songs to him with the music therapist and his guitar. These were songs that Mark had sung with the therapist when he was admitted to the Marsden in early January. Mark had requested ‘our song’, You and me by Lifehouse the song we would have had as our first dance to at our wedding. The music therapist learnt it and it was the last song we sang to Mark. This meant so much and I did not want to let go of his hand. We are devastated and it has not sunk in that I’ll never see him again.

Thank you so much for your messages, they mean the world to me and I am trying to reply to all of them.Mark really appreciated you all, and I am so proud of him and feel so privileged I got to spend the time with him that I did.We had amazing times and he would have had a beautiful future with a great career as a doctor. Cancer stole this from him. He was determined to raise as much awareness as possible to beat Melanoma (an aggressive form of skin cancer that affects too many young people) He has donated his body to research to help them find answers to beat this disease. He has written a book and he’ll continue to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I’ll never forget the memories and he will always be my hero.

Georgie

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32 thoughts on “Of Final Days

  1. Dr Mark put up a great fight against this vile , cunning disease. Thankfully he had this brilliant family lots of real friends and a big following and had a great impact on people including myself a stranger that became very fond of him. Like a stalker I suppose I started to look at his Facebook and he was always smiling. In the end I thought I’m sure he knows my name as he took time to reply on these blogs I’ll add him as a friend. He accepted me, the gentleman he so obviously was. And I felt quite privileged to be able see aspects of his life. I so wish that he could of won this fight, himself and his beautiful Romance with his fiancé Georgie and that his family could have had many more years together. As a mum myself I cannot begin to imagine the pain in all of your hearts , for a son , brother ,twin , fiancé or friend. I will defiantly buy the book and keep on sharing his just giving page. Pain free and at peace. Dr Mark a modern day hero ❤️
    Sue p xx

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    1. I think Mark would love to be thought of as a modern day hero. On the other hand I know he felt he was doing what anyone would do, coping by being proactive. But I know not everyone would do what he has done in the face of adversity. So you are right. He is a hero. Sue xx

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  2. I wanted to say thank you, I have followed your blog and your journey. Through your wonderful and difficult words you have inspired me to be a better Doctor and Clinician. You continue to inspire the medical students I share your blog with, to teach them about how cancer affects not just a patient but a person. My thoughts and love are with your friend and family, such an inspiring human being ❤

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  3. Dear Sue, Georgie, Dave and the rest of Marks family.

    So so sorry to hear of Marks death, I can’t begin to imagine the pain you all must be going through. I am glad you got to make some happy memories during those last few weeks.

    I have been following Marks blog since the start – he managed to bring alive his thoughts and feelings in an incredibly honest and brave way. I have felt truly humbled after every post by his courage and bravery. I am sure that this was only a tiny glimpse of the man you all loved and must be so desperately proud of.

    What is clear from his words is the number of people who truly loved him, and were loved by him. And how much comfort he obviously took from knowing you were by his side. No one fights this alone.

    Thank you for sharing a part of your journey. I hope you find some comfort in each other during the difficult times to come.

    Sending sincere condolences and love. Xx

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  4. Thank you Sue – I am a mother of a daughter ‘living with Metastatic Melanoma’.

    I knew nothing about this type of cancer when my daughter told me about it last February. I found Mark’s blog on the www net. His words and descriptions have helped me enormously to understand this condition.

    Our daughter lives near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and we live in West Yorkshire, UK. We have been fortunate to make 3 visits to see her and her 3 children in the last 10 months after her husband died of Pancreatic Cancer last April, and support her. We are with her at this very moment.

    Well that is enough about me. I just wanted to tell you that your son’s words helped me so much and latterly yours as well – thank you.

    I send you sincere condolences on Mark’s death but I am sure you will find comfort from the sterling good that has come from your son – Irene Sergeant

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. I am so pleased that the blog has helped give you and your daughter more information. It is brilliant that she has you to look after her and the children. I’ll think of you all often. Sue xx

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  5. I am very saddened to hear this. Marks blogs and fund raising have been inspirational and my thoughts are with all of your family and friends. I used to work at kingston hospital and met Mark the few days he stayed on alex ward. I never forgot him as you do most people you come across in a hospital because of how personable and friendly he was and how he handled himself in such adversity.
    I now work in cancer research and I think that decision had something to do with reading this blog.
    Thankyou Mark for sharing your story and Im sure inspiring thousands of people.
    I know words cant bring comfort to you at this time but I am truly sorry for you loss.

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    1. It is lovely that you remember Mark so well for those few days at Kingston. Mark would love the fact that you are now working in cancer research. I wish you every success with that. Sue xx

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  6. I am so sorry for you all. Mark was such a leading light an example to us all and you sound such a great family and such lovely friends, My thoughts are with you I cannot imagine what you are all going through. Just by reading Marks Blog I know you have the strength to go on and do what Mark would have wanted you to do. Georgie I was so pleased that you were in his life it must have given Mark so much hope and so much to live for. I hope you get peace eventually and make the most of everything you still have. All the best Tanya

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  7. RIP Mark. In my entire life I have never known anyone who has faced such a horrid ordeal with so much fight and dignity, you did both yourself Georgie and your family and closest friends so proud, and your legacy will never be forgotten.
    I am not eloquent enough to put into words anything that will come close to taking away the pain your mother and father and brothers, and of course Georgie are now suffering with your loss, so I’ll finish by saying i sincerely hope one day you come to terms with this sad day and are able to celebrate the good impact Mark had on both your life’s and everyone else who had the pleasure to meet him.

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    1. Thanks for your heartfelt thoughts, Alan. We miss Mark so much yet knowing he helped so many will keep us going. Ollie has been such a good friend to Mark and to his brothers throughout this time. Good friends make ordeals like this bearable.
      Sue xx

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  8. I have followed Dr Marks blog and was so very sad to read of his passing. He clearly was a man who lived his life trying to do good and he handed his own illness with dignity and compassion for others and a continued desire to create advancements in treatments that wouldn’t benefit him but again with thought for other future sufferers of this cruel disease. People do use the word hero too often we have almost become desensitised to it but that is what he was, one of the good ones who achieved more in his short life that many others who are here for far longer will do. I am so glad he was able to see his fundraising target smashed and know the good that will continue to do in his name.

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    1. Thanks Rachael. I will never forget the messages and money rolling in on the night of the 7 to 8th January. It was absolutely incredible that everyone wanted to help Mark achieve his dream. I am thrilled that he knew he had met his target and was able to celebrate. He so deserved it. Sue xx

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  9. Sue,
    I wanted to pass on my condolences to you and your family at this sad time. I was lucky enough to be ‘allocated’ Mark as my F2, as he completed his foundation training at Kingston Hospital in August 2015. As a mother of sons and a twin myself I know how precious those relationships are.
    Mark was a gifted and knowledgeable doctor and a kind and funny man. My team on Blyth ward enjoyed working with Mark and have read his blog not only to follow his progress, but also to remind us how to respond positively to adversity and remember the things that we can do to be better doctors. I can’t imagine how you are feeling now, but just wanted to let you know that we are all richer from having known your fantastic son x

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    1. Oh Louise what a wonderful tribute this is to Mark. Thank you so much for getting in touch. I remember Mark mentioning you. It was very hard for him going back to work especially as Kingston Hospital was where he was diagnosed. But he told me he was well supported by you and learnt a lot. Sue x

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  10. Marks blog painted a picture of facing a life limiting disease in a pragmatic, optimistic, objective and emotional manner. That he did this so competently is testament to his gifts as a writer! I will be the first in line to buy his book that I have no doubt will be edited with love and expertise. What an altogether wonderful person he was able to be life and in the face of such adversity. I had always hoped he would overcome this dreadful disease, despite the overwhelming odds he faced. He’s been in my thoughts often, even though I never met him. My best wishes to his family and friends.

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  11. So sorry to hear the news -I have followed Mark for his journey and was inspired by his courage and strength.I was so pleased to hear that you have positive thoughts from his last days. Compared to the treatment my father had in his last days nearly two decades ago I am encouraged how better end of life care is today .My thoughts are with you all – keep strong Melanie xx

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  12. My sincerest condolences to you all.
    Like many here, I never had the good fortune to meet Mark, but I followed his story closely for a long time.
    My mum is fighting Amelanotic Melanoma . . . And so, Marks’s story was both educational and comforting for me.
    I came to think of him as almost a distant friend (I’m sure that I’m not alone in this) and I looked forward to reading his updates and his thoughts . . .
    I am sure that your hearts are broken, but I hope that knowing how many lives Mark was able to touch – brings you some small comfort.
    Thinking of you all xxx

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  13. I followed Mark’s blog after seeing him on London news.I am not normally a reader of blogs but Mark’s was different.I am not techno friendly.Mark’s honesty in his accounts touched me and his determination to help others inspired me.Books are more my comfort zone,I will treasure my copy of the book when it is published.I feel blessed to have stumbled upon his blog.
    My heart goes out to you all… Mark your son,brother,fiancee,friend,doctor was a very special person.

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