Still raising money and awareness a year after his death

March 03 2018

Mark's mum Sue published the 312-page paperback through her company Poetry Space. Proceeds will go to Mark's fundraising pot, which, at the time Hanham and Longwell Green Voice went to print, was just over £201,000.

Mark's mum Sue published the 312-page paperback through her company Poetry Space. Proceeds will go to Mark's fundraising pot, which, at the time Hanham and Longwell Green Voice went to print, was just over £201,000.

The book contains additional material including a moving groom's speech Mark wrote in the hope that he would live to marry his fiancée Georgie Latcham.

Sue, who lives in Davis Close with husband Chris, said: "Mark wrote the book in the last few months of his life based on the blog he kept throughout his illness and there's been some extra material added.

"He asked me to publish it for him and, as I already publish poetry books, I was all set up to do that.

"The book is due out on March 5 and already I've had so many orders; it's been amazing."

Sue said: "The aim of the book is to raise money for Cancer Research to add to Mark's fund he set up when he was ill but it's not just about that. Mark wanted to raise awareness of cancer generally and skin cancer in particular and also how you can still live a full life with cancer, as he managed to do."

The book is subtitled 'wrestling melanoma and falling in love', and chronicles how Mark met Georgie, a medical student who has since qualified as a doctor.

Sue said: "Mark met Georgie very soon after he was diagnosed. When the fundraising and blog took off he started to get invitations to talk about his illness. He contacted the University of Leicester, which is where he trained to be a doctor, and arranged to speak to medical students. Georgie was in the audience. She has since said that she'd already fallen in love with him from reading the blog and wanted to meet 'this amazing person'. They just hit it off straight away and started going out within a couple of weeks of meeting."

Mark proposed to Georgie in January 2016 on the steps of the Royal Marsden Hospital in Fulham.

Sue said: "I was editing the book while Mark was still alive but I never knew about the groom's speech he wrote. He said he had written one but he didn't want me or Georgie to see it. He said he wanted it in the book and also read out at his memorial service by his brother Matthew. That was heartbreaking."

As well as paying tribute to Georgie, the speech thanks his parents for being an 'inspiration' to him and his brothers, as well as praising his dad for his 'practical advice' and his mum for her 'kind heart' and 'great roast dinners and pastry fish pies'.

Sue said: "The groom's speech was so personal. The first time I read it was after Mark died so it was very touching.

"I've been working with his words all year to correct grammar and to get the book perfect. I like working with his words; it brings him back. Now I've got the book, I'm really delighted with it. I take it to bed with me and read bits every day. It gives me comfort to read it."

Sue has received more than 170 pre-orders for the book: "A lot of people buying the book are Mark's friends and colleagues and people who know us but it's gaining wider appeal with the general public. As well as being a story about Mark's illness, there's a lot of humour and hope in there. He never gave up hope right until the very end.

"Mark had a very positive outlook on life. He loved life and loved his job as a doctor which is why he managed to keep working for part of the time he was ill. 

"He became a bit of a hero because of his blog but to many people who knew him he was already a hero because he was always so kind and wanted to help others."

P.S. I have cancer can be purchased through Sue's website www.poetryspace.co.uk at the price of £9.95. There is a £3 post and packaging charge but people can arrange to pick it up from Sue by emailing susan@poetryspace.co.uk

The book is also available at We The Curious, formerly @Bristol Science Centre, and the Tobacco Factory in Southville.

All profits will go to Mark’s Just Giving fund for Cancer Research UK. You can donate directly by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-Sims5