Tributes to my son Mark Sims

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Mark and Georgie at his friend Tim’s wedding.

My son Mark died on Thursday 19th January 2017, in the Royal Marsden hospital in London. Please see his blog  for his full story and take a look at his amazing fundraising appeal . Before his death he raised over £120,000 for Cancer Research UK and it is his wish that we all keep it going. To date (06/11/20) the fund has reached £318,280. He has written a book based on his blog, with extra background material. Please check here on Poetry Space or on the blog for updates. Also please follow the page Beat Cancer With Mark if you can. Poetry Space is also on Twitter.

I have been very moved by the tributes pouring in for Mark and the kind messages through the post and on social media.

Here are some poems that have been written about or inspired by Mark’s story:


The Big C

After reading Dr Mark Sims’ book
P.S. I have cancer

A many headed hydra,
it creeps into every corner
metastisizes before your eyes.
One lesion halted
others appear.
It lies in wait
for defences to come down,
false hope to emerge
but doesn’t defeat
the love of family, fiancée, friends
nor the spirit of one
battling to the end.

Sue Wallace-Shaddad


Time to Change


I want to change my mind.


far too small.


I want to change my mind

to Mark’s



less than half my age

and knowing

he was soon to die



became engaged

wrote a book


ran half a marathon




and smiles out still

from his Just Giving Page

and says:


Whatever time remains

do something, anything

but do it now.


Annie Fisher, June 2017



You watch your child asleep
and hear each quiet breath he takes,
see the lashes on the cheek you’ve loved
for years, the shape of lips.
And all of this so precious—
no other word will do.
You watch and and wait and love
and listen to each breath he takes,
and hold a grain of hope you know
to be no longer true.

Denni Turp



Five Gifts


He wrapped gifts for his mum

and his Dad, for his three brothers

carefully tucking in the ends

sticking up the corners

writing names on each one.


It was weeks before Christmas,

fairy lights were switched on,

From left to right, Matt, Mark Dave and Paul

evenings were dark and cold.

Shoppers were clicking on line

or visiting the shopping malls.


Yes, it was beginning, the

Christmas hope, the run up

to panic, the surge to excess.

But he beat them to it; put

the scissors away, the tape


in the drawer, the five gifts

on the chest by the door,

ready in case; ‘In case I’m not

here’ he said. ‘I want you

to have something from me’.


The family gulped back tears

and waited. What else could

they do? Then on Christmas

day, he gave them the five

precious gifts, his last.


Judy Dinnen



Now this is a story all about how
Mark’s life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right here
I’ll tell you how he took on cancer for the past 2 year

In the East side of Bristol he was born and raised
On the football pitch ref’ing he spent most of his days
Whistle blowing, calling ‘foul’, tryin’ look cool
All in hope of trumping brothers Matt, Dave and Paul

When a couple of cells that were up to no good
Started multiplying in his late childhood
He spotted one dark mole and his mum got scared
So she took him to the doc to check the mole on his head

Mark begged and pleaded to have it taken away
So they cut around the border without further delay
With the lesion removed, he was finally there
It was time to move on, and hope that life would be fair

Long gone were the days of Mark the Cub Scout
But not his commitment to help others out
Some wait for a spark like Darwin or Edison
Mark’s light bulb moment came when he chose medicine

Here we all met at this campus in Leicester
The place where Mark started that autumn semester
By day he would learn about health and disease
By night be would devour the house block of cheese

And so we move onto the extra-curricular
In which Mark became a respected practitioner
Whether chasing a ball or bossing at squash
Or waving his T-shirt to Baywatch in Mosh

During Mark’s budding career at the MSB
He decided to embark upon a second degree
Whilst his parents thought this an academic frontier
Or a clever ploy to extend his medics rugby career

In the Loaded Dog most Saturday nights
Mark and the team, lining up some quiet pints
But before he could count to 20 + 1
His six years in Leicester were all but done

And as we rejoiced on that warm July day
We were blind to the diagnosis that was coming Mark’s way
But the memories that Mark created in Leicester
Will be cherished by all those who met him, forever.




Rhys Owen





 A haiku from Eileen Carney Hulme:


when I think of you

the scrabble board has one space

only love fills it



And this from a close friend of ours:


It should have been a wedding

Young people in their prime

Guests from every corner of your life

Cousins from abroad


The best of best men had best men galore

Tales a Mum should never hear, but is so glad she did

Brotherly rivalries

Love, Laughter, Tears


The bride talks of her love, brave, in tears

Everyone in tears

Life affirming, glorious, …………….until, until

They say (angry, reluctant)  “We’d better talk about the cancer”

They were Medics after all


There was love and pride in bucket fulls

Or was that bucket lists

It was a wedding

It was a funeral


Lois Nicks


And this piece of artwork from Kirsty Fraser: