Belfast Telegraph

Andrew's cancer journey becomes a poignant comic book

By Amanda Ferguson

His final wish was to be a comic book hero.

And now Andrew Fitzsimmons has been immortalised in cartoon form for a thought-provoking publication which will be distributed in hospitals to young cancer patients.

The Belfast man - who died from osteosarcoma on October 1, 2013 aged just 23 - was an avid reader of comics and had a final wish to have a comic published based on his cancer journey.

Belfast Telegraph readers and the wider public helped raise funds for the unique project which will be officially launched at the Black Box in Belfast on June 25.

Andrew's father John Fitzsimmons told this paper that he, his wife Marion and their children Craig and Rachel are sure the 3,000 copies being distributed in hospitals all over the UK and Ireland will be of benefit to others.

"It is emotional for us," John said. "As parents it is a hard process, seeing Andrew's portrait and reading the story, but we are so proud of the comic.

"It is a great job, so professional, so thank you to everyone who donated and sent us such kind messages after reading Andrew's story in the Belfast Telegraph. There are a lot of good people out there."

John believes Andrew would be pleased with the finished product and this brings his family some comfort. "Andrew would have been so proud of it," he said. "Hopefully it is everything he had wished it would be and we have fulfilled a part of his legacy for it to act as a support aid to young people with cancer.

"Even if is helps just one person we will be happy."

Simon Darby, a social worker from CLIC Sargent who worked closely with Andrew on his vision for the comic, said his wish of turning his cancer journey into a comic to help young patients has been achieved in style. "I know that he would be proud of what we hold in our hands today," Simon said.

"This is a resource that will help other young adult patients understand what Andrew wanted them to know what he found out during his cancer journey.

"He learned having your family, friends and professionals around you will help with the impact cancer has on you, and life doesn't stop because you have cancer."

Danny McLaughlin from Uproar Comics in Londonderry produced the comic for the Fitzsimmons family.

"It works well," he said. "It makes people emotional. That is what we wanted.

"The message will hit people hard and does its job."

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