Update by Sue Sims

So much has happened since I last posted so where do I start? Chris and I are settled now in Beaminster Dorset and running Tangerine Cafe and Gallery which we love.

Soon after our move to Dorset we were were invited to the Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge for the unveiling of a new plaque for Mark. I have also spoken at CRUK events and talked to Skin Cancer specialist nurses at one of their conferences. I try as much as possible to continue to raise awareness of cancer generally and skin cancer in particular as Mark is no longer here to do it and it meant such a lot to him.

We are touched that so many people still think about Mark and miss him as we do. So many lovely friends, ours and Mark’s have come to seek us out at Tangerine Cafe and many keep in touch through email, messaging, social media and the post. I love receiving news from Mark’s friends and sometimes unexpected gifts arrive like this one below, in Mark’s memory. We were so touched to receive this from Carla and Spencer.

We continue our fundraising efforts and last October we took apart in Cancer Research Uk’s Stand Up to Cancer appeal as the theme was Sunday Brunch so right up our street.

Like everyone else, the lockdown affected our lives though it was nothing compared to losing Mark. However I began to think that it would be brilliant to create a new anthology as a snapshot of experiences of living through a pandemic. During the first lockdown I put out an appeal for poems, art and diary extracts and received a flood of submissions resulting in the lovely book below that is available to purchase from Poetry Space. It is £15 and all profits go to Mark’s fund for CRUK. We have already added £2000.

That’s all for now, other than to say we have almost reached £324,000 through Mark’s appeal for Cancer Research UK. If you can help us reach half a million then go to Mark’s appeal

I have three dreams in regard to Mark, one is that he’ll walk through our door and say ‘Hi Mum and Dad, I’m here’, the others are to reach half a million pounds in his memory for Cancer Research UK and the other is to see his lovely book: PS I have Cancer become a best seller and maybe even a film one day.

Mark was a young doctor with so much to offer the world and his life was cut short. It is inevitably sad but the main theme is hope and love, and above all this story demonstrates Mark’s passion for life and his faith in science to cure the disease that ravaged and eventually took his life.

The book is available on Poetry Space and on Amazon.


Reviews of P.S. I have cancer by Mark Sims

Mark book cover front

We had this lovely review back in May.

Book Review: 24 May 2015
Title : P.S. I have Cancer: Wrestling Melanoma and Falling in Love
Author: Mark Sims
Publisher: Poetry Space Ltd 2018  £9.95

Reviewer: Polly Buchanan, Clinical Editor, Dermatological Nursing (Official Journal of the British Dermatological Nursing Group)

This remarkable book has been written by an even more remarkable person, Dr Mark Sims. Mark very sadly died aged 28years old. He had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma and this book represents, as he puts it, his story of defying the cancer and falling in love.
The book is written as journal, describing his experiences, thoughts and emotions during the years, months and final days of his life. He embraced life and grasped every opportunity live and love to the fullest.
His love for people, his friendships, and relationships represent a key focus throughout the book and how these helped him cope with the disease, highlighting the closeness and support from his family, friends and fiancée. The love story of Mark and Georgia is beautifully told and touches ones heart so deeply. The anecdotes and stories he recalls are of real life experience, which are often humorous, sometimes sad but always captivating. He demonstrates a positivity which fosters hope and understanding.
He has been very articulate and honest in his writing which gives readers insight to what it is really like living with melanoma. This is an insight which will resonate with other people who have a similar prognosis following the diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. Also, for me, reading this as a nurse, Mark’s story gives real insight into what he experienced at the patient – health care professional interface. He describes the way health care professionals communicated with him, both verbal and non-verbal behaviours and how he interpreted things and how it made him feel.
Something he described, which will stay with me forever, was how his felt when he read the job title that was on the nurse’s name badge, before anyone had spoken a word. He knew instantly, the information he was about to receive was going to be ‘bad news’.
Mark reflects on his career as a medical doctor, and his passion for medical research. This is clearly articulated in own experiences as a clinician as well as being a participant in clinical research studies. He strongly advocates the value of medical research in the discovery of new and effective treatments as well offering patients the opportunity to be part of it all, in seeking new knowledge and hope. I regard this book as a piece of qualitative narrative research in its own right. The richness of the data provides deep insight into survivorship, love and hope.
I found this book educational, with Mark’s own medical knowledge enhancing the story, offering medical images, scans, references and further reading. It is highly recommended reading and essential reading for every health care professional caring for persons with melanoma. It is a book that captivates, educates and provokes. Eloquently written, he deliberately arouses the reader’s interest. For health professionals, he asks us to consider the experience of melanoma from a patient’s perspective, how we communicate and how we can foster hope.
I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Mark, I wish I had, as he was a truly remarkable young man, in all that he achieved. He has left us a legacy through his writings, his blog and his fund raising which will help others in the future. I am grateful to his family and Georgie for publishing his work and giving me the opportunity to review it. I recommend it as a MUST read to all our BDNG journal readership.
All book profits are donated to the Mark Sims’ Just Giving Fund for Cancer Research UK (CRUK)