My name is Mark Sims I was diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant melanoma on the 18th of February last year at the age of 27. This is dedicated to those people who participated into the drug trials many whom would have died so that I could have lived. It is due to them that there are treatments available to patients like me.
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)
Until Mark died and left me with his beautiful book to publish and promote, I had not imagined becoming a public speaker. However speaking engagements have been rolling in as well as TV and press interviews. I have found I love doing them. It’s another way for me to keep telling Mark’s story and to raise awareness of the horrible disease that is malignant melanoma. Other family members have been getting involved too. Dave made a speech at a data conference organised by Public Heath England. Also some friends have organised their own events to raise awareness and keep Mark’s story alive. We are very thankful to them.
Here are some highlights from these past few months.
Our book launches in Bath and Bristol.
Local press coverage. The story was also in The Daily Express, The London Evening Standard and other newspapers around the country.
TV coverage. I was interviewed by presenters Jonty and Ellie. ITV have been amazing supporters.
Magazine coverage below. Dave telling the moving story of losing his identical twin in Multiple Matters (TAMBA), and me telling Mark’s story to That’s Life magazine.
Public speaking at CRUK conference in East London and at Battersea Race for Life.
I also spoke at Bristol Race for Life.
Here’s Dave at the data conference in Manchester. Above Dave there is a shot of Mark giving a speech at Leicester University when he was first diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant melanoma.