After being diagnosed with incurable cancer at the age of 15, Stephen Sutton has made it his mission to live his life to the fullest, no matter what. After his initial diagnosis, he immediately created the Facebook page Stephen’s Story with the tagline, ‘Its not a sob story, its Stephen’s story’. Best known as the teenager who raised over £3million for the Teenage Cancer Trust, he really is an everyday hero.
A few years ago Stephen created a bucket list of 46 things he’d like to achieve before he died, one of these was to raise £1 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Just a few short weeks ago, Stephen thought he’d lost his final battle to cancer and left a heartfelt message on the Facebook page Stephen’s Story. Despite the fact his condition was worsening, he still managed to give a thumbs up to his followers. The heartbreaking photo of Stephen in what could have been his deathbed inspired people around the world to donate to his cause and attempt to reach his target million pound target.
However, the Facebook post didn’t just inspire ordinary people to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust, celebrities and comedians got on board with the cause and tweeted about the campaign using the hash tag #thumbsupforstephen. The prestigious list of celebs included Jason Manford, Steve Coogan, Russell Brand, Noel Fielding, Johnny Vegas, Jack Whitehall, John Bishop, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Addlington and Tim Lovejoy.
Jason Manford was one of the leading celebrities to spread the #thumbsupforstephen message and quickly set about organising his own charity gig for the ill teenager which sold out in a record breaking four minutes.
After what was thought to be Stephen’s final message, the story then took a dramatic twist in the following few days as the teenager ‘coughed up’ part of a tumour that was obstructing his breathing. Despite the fact his lungs were still checkered with other tumours, doctors confirmed that it was possible that Stephen had coughed up part of an obstruction that was adding pressure to his collapsed lung. Although the collapsed lung is still rife with dangerous growths, it appeared as though Stephen’s body was slowly adapting to life with just one good lung.
Despite the fact that there are skeptics out there that questioned Stephen’s recent boost of health, he remains unaffected by the all of the people that have doubted the validity of his story. He replied to one user on Twitter ‘Sorry to disappoint you! So you know, I still have my cancer and it’s still incurable, if that makes you feel less ‘duped’ x. Nevertheless, Stephen even has a positive outlook on the trolls and cynics out there, and still remains focussed on the good in everyone.
Throughout his journey with terminal cancer, Stephen has always followed several positive mantras that have kept not only him, but also others suffering with incurable diseases going strong. Stephen’s number one rule when he began sharing his story with others was that he would never describe his condition as terminal, and that ‘I am not dying from my cancer, I am living with my cancer’. The positive message he has shared has inspired many others with similar conditions and cancers to live their life to the full just as Stephen does.
Just three weeks ago, Stephen told the The Birmingham Mercury that despite there were times where he could feel very bitter about the cards life dealt him, that there was only so long that he could question ‘why me?’ Before realising that although life isn’t fair, the importance of making it a better place and making every second count was more important.
Despite the fact Stephen’s condition has been up and down in the last few weeks, he was recently discharged from hospital and allowed to recover at home. Although he still remains very weak, Stephen is still striving to break world records. Last week in his hometown of Burntwood, 500+ of Stephen’s friends and followers of his cause united to break the world record for the most people putting their hands in a heart-shaped gesture in one room at the same time. On the same day, a laughahton was also organised to get everyone giggling–because according to Stephen, laughter really is one of the best medicines.
Stephen’s 46 task long bucket list also included hugging an animal bigger than himself (which he achieved by hugging an Elephant), sky dive for charity, publish a ‘tumour humour’ book containing funny stories, jokes and anecdotes that relate to cancer so people can look on the brighter side of life and to get a tattoo. The entire list is made up of humorous and positive ideas that include a few of Stephen’s life ambitions, the full catalogue is available here.
After a recent visit by David Cameron whilst in hospital, Stephen has decided to undertake the huge task of replying to all the other well-wishers that have sent him messages of admiration. It has been his sole ambition throughout his journey to spread love, light and happiness to others and the amount of donations the Teenager Cancer Trust has received has ‘brought out the best in people’ according to the teen.
At just 19, Stephen’s story has united people across the world to see the positives in life and to never take things for granted. His Facebook page is constantly flooded with messages from people that are sharing their stories and experiences with incurable diseases just like Stephen, and have found comfort in his positivity. The world will be very sad when the day comes that we loose such an incredible young man, but the legacy that he has created is set to continue as he has inspired thousands with his passion for life. Not forgetting that the teenager has already raised over £3million for the Teenage Cancer Trust, a figure that continues to grow by the day.