Stephen Sutton, a plucky 19-year-old who roared back at stage 3 colorectal cancer in a way that endeared him to the world and allowed him to single-handedly raise over $5.5 million in donations for the Teenage Cancer Trust in the United Kingdom, has died as he slept on Wednesday. Over 135,000 people around the world contributed to the fund after getting caught up in his remarkably uplifting story.
Diagnosed at age 15, Sutton’s incredible attitude made him captivating to adoring legions who had followed his blog. In a recent interview he said, “I am so lucky and so fortunate to be here. My cancer has taught me a lot about life. All the clichés – not taking life for granted, blah, blah, blah. But being so close to death just reinforced all those feelings about making the most of what we've got."
British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking for a grieving nation, told reporters on Thursday, “Stephen was determined not to waste a minute, not to waste an hour or a day," he said. "I can hardly think of anyone I have met with such a zest for life, with such a belief that you can get things done, and who wanted to live every minute. He was absolutely inspiring, he did extraordinary things for charity, and meeting him was a huge privilege."
Stephen’s plan was simple. “I’ve been through a lot these past couple of years, but more significantly I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learnt to laugh through my illness, to stay positive and to keep on doing the things I’ve always wanted. I’ve got cancer, nothing can change that, that’s life, and it’s probably unfair. From my point of view the only thing I can change is how I respond to it. My cancer does not define me, but how I react to my cancer does: so why not try and react in the best way possible?
“I haven’t asked how long I’ve got left because I don’t see the point in measuring the worthiness of your life in terms of time, but rather you should measure in terms of what you achieve,” he said after filling two-thirds of a hysterical ‘bucket list’ where the original goal was to raise $10,000 for cancer research. “So my goal is to achieve as much as possible with however long I have left, while still remaining a normal teenager trying to enjoy things."
With that said, allow me to share Stephen Sutton’s final blog that appeared with a picture of him, grinning with thumbs up, on his Facebook page:
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FROM “STEPHEN’S STORY – His Final Blog:
“It's a final thumbs up from me! I've done well to blog things as well as I have up till now, but unfortunately I think this is just one hurdle too far.
“It's a shame the end has come so suddenly- there's so many people I haven't got round to properly thank or say goodbye to. Apologies for that.
“There were also so many exciting projects and things I didn't get to see out. Hopefully some will continue and if you want to carry on the fundraising please do (justgiving.com/stephen-sutton-TCT is the link to donate to.)
“All future updates on this page will probably be from a family member. I hopefully may have the energy to write a few tweets. I’ll continue fighting for as long as I can, and whatever happens next I want all to know I am currently in a good place mentally and at ease with the situation.
“That’s it from me. But life has been good. Very good.
“Thank you to my mum and the rest of my family for everything. Thank you to my friends for being amazing. Thank you to my medical team for the hard work and effort they have continually put towards me. And thank you everyone else for sharing this wonderful journey with me.
“I love you all. X”