How Stephen Sutton raised £3m for Teenage Cancer Trust
- 14 May 2014
- From the section Stoke & Staffordshire
On learning of his terminal cancer diagnosis, Stephen Sutton was determined not to become a "sob story".
Instead of cursing his misfortune, the teenager drew up a bucket list of 46 things to do before he died, including playing drums in front of a huge crowd, getting a tattoo, skydiving and - most significantly - raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
That fundraising figure now stands at more than £3m, fuelled by campaigns on social networks and the backing of celebrities including the comics Jason Manford and Jimmy Carr.
What began as a tumour in Stephen's bowel, diagnosed in September 2010, quickly spread to his knee and then to his lungs and liver.
In just over three years, he underwent seven major operations and four different regimes of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
But it was the picture of him giving a thumbs up and posting a goodbye message on Facebook in April 2014 that prompted people from around the world to donate to his cause.
More than 135,000 individual donations have since been made on his Just Giving page.
Comedian Jason Manford became an unofficial spokesman for Stephen's campaign after visiting him in hospital. He launched the campaign #thumbsupforStephen, asking people to share selfies of themselves promoting it.
Manford described him as an "inspirational boy".
"He said life should be measured not by time but achievements. That is a great philosophy for life and I've been staggered by Stephen's dedication to raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust," said the comedian.
Born on 16 December 1994, Stephen went to school in his hometown of Burntwood, Staffordshire.
A talented sportsman, he played football for Walsall youth team and competed for his county at cross country running.
Despite having to go through chemotherapy during his exams, Stephen gained five A* GCSES, four As and two distinctions, at Chase Terrace Technology College.
He had planned a career as a doctor and had interviews at Cambridge University to study medicine. He withdrew his university applications after finding out his cancer was incurable.
Head teacher Stuart Jones said "Stephen is the most amazing person I've ever met, let alone student.
"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."
On 7 January 2013 Stephen decided to share his life, by making an online page called "Stephen's Story" which included his bucket list of 46 things.
He said he wanted to put the "fun in fundraising" and so set about ticking off the items.
The teenager went crowd surfing in a rubber dinghy at a gig by one of his favourite bands, the Cancer Bats, at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
He went skydiving in August 2013 and played the drums in front of 90,000 people before the Uefa Champions League final at Wembley in May 2013, among many other personal targets.
Most recently, he broke a world record getting the most people to make a "heart-shaped hand gesture".
But his greatest achievement will be raising £3.2m for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which the charity has said is being used to provide expert help and support at specialist units across the country.
In a Facebook message, Stephen said he was overwhelmed by the support he had received.
He said: "To see people come together for the cause recently in the way they have is incredibly touching and heart-warming.
"Thank you from me, and also thank you from every young cancer patient in the future who will benefit invaluably from the money raised."