Dr Mark Sims - our local hero

February 03 2017

THE Longwell Green parents of a young doctor who died from skin cancer have paid tribute to their son.

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THE Longwell Green parents of a young doctor who died from skin cancer have paid tribute to their son.

Mark Sims  died on January 19 at the age of 28 following a two-year battle with malignant melanoma.

In that time he raised well over £100k for Cancer Research UK by galvanising more than 3,000 friends and strangers to contribute.

During his illness he kept a brutally honest blog, wrestlingmelanoma.com, sharing the realities of dealing with cancer treatment. It led to other doctors commenting it had changed the way they dealt with cancer patients.

Parents Chris and Sue, who have lived in Longwell Green for 25 years, said they were proud of what their son had achieved in his tragically short life.

Chris said: “The fundraising was typical of his attitude. He would always try and find a positive out of a negative situation.

“He wanted to do everything he could to raise awareness and to do something for good for other people. He has passed on his body for medical research so that further study can be done into melanoma.

“He was a healthy boy who had a full life with so much promise for the future. Continuing with the fundraising helps give us a focus, but it is tinged with sadness. He would have gone on to have a career as a brilliant doctor, and he planned to train as an oncologist if he’d recovered.”

Mark grew up in Longwell Green with twin brother Dave, an A&E doctor, and older brothers Matthew, 32, and Paul, 30.

He attended Cadbury Heath and John Cabot schools, and played in a range of local sports teams including Stanbridge Rangers football, Barton Hill rugby and Kingswood squash team.

Before starting his medical degree and qualifying as a doctor, Mark and Dave spent six months working as healthcare assistants at Frenchay Hospital.

Mark  fought off skin cancer age 15, caused by a genetic defect, and had been healthy for 11 years afterwards until a sudden stomach pain one morning led to the discovery of tumours in his liver, lung and spleen.

Sue said: “He set up his JustGiving page within five days of being admitted hospital in 2015 when he discovered the malignant melanoma had come back. It helped him to be doing something, and to make sense of it all.

“Once the fundraising started it took on a life of its own. It got to £50k quickly, then slowed down. When Mark was told he only had a few weeks left, he told everyone his goal was to get to over £100k before he died. The fund passed that in less than 24 hours.”

Sue is now looking to publish a book of Mark’s blog later this year through her publishing company, Poetry Space, to raise further funds for Cancer Research UK.

Mark’s family and fiancée, Georgie Latcham, are holding a private service, which will be followed by a memorial service open to the public on Saturday February 18. Up to 400 people who knew Mark or were touched by his story are expected to attend.

The memorial service will take place at 2.30pm at Leicester University, where Mark studied. Bakers Coaches in Bristol are donating a coach to take people from Bristol to and from the memorial.

Anyone who would like a place on the coach can contact Chris via a link on wrestlingmelanoma.com