Doctor with cancer raises thousands to fund researcher
A young doctor with incurable cancer that runs in his family has raised thousands of pounds to fund a researcher to examine the disease.
Dr Mark Sims, 27, has cancer caused by a genetic fault, which has also affected his brother, father, aunt and grandmother.
He was 15 when he was first diagnosed with skin cancer and was able to beat the disease. But in February this year, the cancer returned and is now in his lung, liver, spleen and gallbladder.
Despite this, Dr Sims is about to run a half marathon and has raised more than £40,000 for Cancer Research UK.
He has asked the charity to use the cash to fund a PhD student, Magnus Dillon, and on Tuesday the pair will meet for the first time.
"In 2003, doctors wouldn't have been able to offer me anything," Dr Sims said.
"But in just the last 12 years, there has been such progress in treatment, they are now able to extend my life.
"I'm indebted to all those people who fundraised or donated money over the years, and all the people who went on trials that didn't work. Without them, I would not have any help at all."
Dr Sims, who works as a locum doctor to fit around his hospital appointments, was told earlier this year he might have only around four months to live.
He admits that the return of his cancer has been difficult.
"I thought I'd got away with it and then I got a slap in the face," he said.
"Now I try not to think about it but there are still things that set me off quite easily.
"I don't think you come to terms with the loss that other people will have after you've gone."
Thanks to the drug dabrafenib - a biological therapy for advanced melanoma skin cancer - Dr Sims' tumours have shrunk by around 90%.
Although his body will become resistant to the drug over time, there are still two more treatment options open to him.
"I'm in a grey area where I don't know whether I have a little time left or a long time," he said.
"I want to go on forever, I will try anything to be honest."
Dr Sims' brother Paul, 29, was diagnosed with skin cancer at a very early stage and managed to survive.
His twin David has never had cancer, but his father Chris, 59, had the disease, as did his grandmother, Marion.
Another relative, an aunt, Julia, died of pancreatic cancer aged 56 as a result of the defective gene.
Dr Sims has been determined to make the most of life and has been to 28 European countries, central America and New Zealand.
He also has a girlfriend, Georgie Latchman, 27, and the pair are hoping to see the Northern Lights.
Dr Sims, whose family home is in Wimbledon, south-west London, said raising money for Cancer Research UK means he can help " another Mark Sims" in the future.
"I will have left a legacy to the patients of tomorrow in honour of the people who unknowingly helped me in the past," he said.
PhD student Mr Dillon, 32, is based at the Institute of Cancer Research and is examining a new type of drug which is being used in an early-stage clinical trial with patients.
He said: "Cancer Research UK pays for the training of people like me to develop as independent researchers investigating the next generation of cancer treatments.
"It's thanks to this research that cancer treatments are gradually improving all of the time."
To donate to Dr Sims' fundraising page, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/Mark-Sims5/