A determined mum completed a Battersea charity run on Wednesday to continue fundraising in memory of her inspirational son.
During his two-year battle with skin cancer, Mark Sims, who had worked as a junior doctor at St Helier and Kingston hospital, raised thousands for Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and documented his fight on a candid and popular blog.
Following his death last January aged just 28, his family vowed to continue his philanthropy, motivated mother Sue to participate in the charity’s Race for Life event.
Before setting off on the 5k route around Battersea Park, she made a touching speech on stage.
“Mark was very brave and I’m quite in awe of him,” she told a sea of pink t-shirts.
“And that’s why I’m here tonight – I’m determined to carry on where Mark left off.”
As per Mark’s wishes, the Sims family turned his blog entries into a book, called ‘P.S. I have Cancer’, and are donating all profits to CRUK.
While Mrs Sims walked round the course with her sister Marilyn, their respective husbands Chris and Keith manned a stall selling the book.
“We’ve now sold around 600 copies, which is wonderful,” she said.
Having initially raised more than £100,000, Dr Sims’ JustGiving page now stands at £203,680.
The medic was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma aged 15, and was inspired to study medicine after receiving life-saving treatment.
The family discovered a genetic fault had caused the disease, which Chris, and twin brother Dave had. Eldest brother Paul was found not to carry it.
In 2015, after celebrating a decade of being cancer-free, Dr Sims received a devastating blow after going to the doctors over stabbing pains in his sides.
“They told him the cancer had spread and he had four to 18 months to live,” Mrs Sims recalled.
Determined to make the most of whatever time he had left, the brave medic drew up a bucket list, started raising money for charity and even found love with his fianceé, fellow medic Georgie Latcham.
Mrs Sims, who lives in Bristol, has fond memories of Battersea Park during that time.
“When Mark was ill, the Royal Marsden hospital in Chelsea wasn’t far so we used to go and play crazy golf between treatments,” she said.
“So the four of us went the day after Race for Life — went back to the park and played crazy golf.”
Mrs Sim’s mother Irene, who battled cancer twice, was born in Battersea, making the race all the more poignant.
She said: “It was a really warm atmosphere. I was reading lots of the stories on people’s backs as I went round and they were very touching.
“So many of us are affected by cancer.
I wrote Mark and Mum’s name on my back.”
She said she’d felt ‘pretty excited’ about the event and had used a tracker to help build her stamina prior during training for it.
CRUK was a charity close to her son’s heart.
“Being a doctor himself, he understood the science of it all and knew that sometimes if they discover something about one cancer it helps another,” she explained.
He even left some of his own money to the cause.
But as well as finding a cure for cancer, Mark was an advocate of taking preventative steps too.
Ms Sims added: “He was very passionate about spreading the message that people need to be careful in the sun, put lots of sun cream on their children and he was very hot on telling people not to use sunbeds.”
P.S I have cancer can be purchased at www.poetryspace.co.uk £9.95