Friday, 18 July 2014

Elsewhere: “Cancer Doesn't Have Me” - UK Teen Raised £5 Million for Charity Before Death

UK Prime Minister David Cameron paid a visit to Stephen on 2 May 2014.

Stephen Sutton became sort of a local celebrity in the United Kingdom through his struggles with cancer and what he did about it. In September 2010, the world changed for him when he was diagnosed Lynch Syndrome, a condition that increases the risk for bowel cancer which ran in his family.

He died on 14 May 2014, at the age of 19 but after having lived “a life measured by his accomplishments,” not time spent on the Earth, which was how he would describe his achievements. After the diagnosis, he was often quoted as saying, “I might have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me!”

Brave Stephen inspired millions of people. He raised £5 million through 200,000 individual donors for Teenage Cancer Trust, gave tonnes of inspiring speeches, fulfilled big chunks of his 46 bucket list goals and managed to generate 1.3 million likes on his Facebook page, titled “Stephen’s Story” which was set up in January last year.

Stephen said in one of his YouTube videos that the cancer was initially spotted by the hospital in his stomach but it then spread to the back of his leg, knee, and his leg was amputated as a result. He was thought to be in remission many times but the cancer then moved to his groin and pelvis.

Stephen was an active sportsperson while in school. He was in cross country and athletics and broke a few records along the way which are still intact today. He also played football, rugby, basketball and cricket. This was balanced with academic excellence where he scored 5As*, 4As and 2 distinctions in his exams.

"Stephen is perhaps the most amazing person I've ever met, let alone student," said the head teacher at Chase Terrace Technology College, Stuart Jones. "It's made lots of young people [at the school] think quite differently about the sorts of decisions they're making and how they can make the best of their opportunities."

Among the things he managed to do before his passing - skydiving, play the drums in front of a massive crowd, hug an animal bigger than him, and raise £16,000 for charity. So he dove out of a plane, played drums at Wembley Stadium in London, wrapped his arms around the trunk of an elephant and blew the roof off his charity goal.

Stephen made a brief recovery and celebrities and politicians from UK Prime Minister David Cameron to Ricky Gervais went public with their support for him. Comedian Jason Manford even started an online campaign called #thumbsupforStephen, asking people to take selfies promoting his message, which led to donations.

"I've always been a firm believer that people are 'good,' and to see people come together for the cause recently in the way they have is incredibly touching and heartwarming," Stephen wrote on his Facebook page on 25 April 2014. "Thank you from me, and also thank you from every young cancer patient in the future who will benefit invaluably from the money raised!"

As a show of his strength within, he would often be heard quipping: "This is not a sob story, this is Stephen's story."

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