Last week, Stephen Sutton posted a "final thumbs up" on Facebook. The 19-year-old has bowel cancer and, two years ago, he was told that it will be terminal. Last week, tumors caused one of his lungs to collapse and he was rushed to the hospital, where he was "permanently" hooked up to an oxygen machine.
As this was happening, Stephen's story went viral: While he was battling his cancer, he was also checking items off a bucket list (sky dive, get a tattoo), and raising money for charity.
Last week, he checked the no. 1 item off his bucket list: Raising over £1 million for Teenage Cancer Trust through the fundraising site JustGiving. But Stephen's story did not end there.
"Still here and still fighting!!! Throughout the whole journey I've been realistic about my position and at my last post I genuinely thought I was a goner.... But hey, I'm still here!!" Stephen posted on Facebook.
In another post, he continued:
At one point I was told by a doctor that there was a good chance I was going to stop breathing soon and, after discussing why if this did happen putting me on high dependancy care would not be suitable in my situation, my options would be severely limited…[But] the medical team around me did everything they could and my body just managed to cope with the trauma it was put under.
Then "the most bizarre but fortunate twist in the tale yet" happened: Stephen coughed up a tumor ("It all just seems incredibly surreal- mind, I'm not complaining!"). Read his recount of the incident here:
It's not a miracle, per sae, but it still shows the powers of positivity: "Overall my time here will still be cut significantly short by my illness (...but I've known that anyway for a while anyway)," he wrote with a new thumbs up.
"I am still ravaged by tumours elsewhere that will and are currently harming me," he continued. "But with my breathing fine and no other acute medical problems at the moment, we can optimistically look forward to a period of 'future' that at the beginning of the week seemed impossible. It still might not be long (fingers crossed it is though) but due to the circumstances, I feel very fortunate to be here, and every second alive feels very special!!"
And Stephen's fundraising has gotten larger and larger: At the time of publishing, Stephen had more than tripled his goal, with over 100,000 people donating £3,050,539.28 (or over $5 million USD). It's broken all of JustGiving's records.
I am literally astounded at how well I'm feeling and doing. Just gotta keep on keeping on.? Stephen's Story (@_StephensStory) April 28, 2014
Good times like this really helps to forget all the bad? Stephen's Story (@_StephensStory) April 28, 2014
Stephen also worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to "spread [his] story of positivity with as many people as possible." They made a short film, featuring his friends and family, and you can now watch it on YouTube.
"The old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what do you do when life gives you cancer?" he explains in the video. "This is not a sob story, this is Stephen's story."
Donate to Stephen's JustGiving page here.