Stephen Sutton, the U.K. teenager who raised £3 Million for a teen cancer charity while he went through his own battle with cancer, has sadly passed away.
"My heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son who passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning, Wednesday 14th May," his mom wrote on his Facebook page. "The ongoing support and outpouring of love for Stephen will help greatly at this difficult time, in the same way as it helped Stephen throughout his journey. We all know he will never be forgotten, his spirit will live on, in all that he achieved and shared with so many."
Stephen's story goes like this: When he got his terminal diagnosis from bowel cancer at the age of 15, Stephen made a bucket list. On the his list were the expected things like skydiving, throw a massive party with his friends and get a tattoo. But his No. 1 item was always to raise £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust. In fact, if you look at his list, a lot of his top wishes had to do with helping others and raising money for charity.
"Teenage Cancer Trust have helped me hugely throughout my own cancer battle and helped shape who I am and my positive attitude today," he explained. "They offer hope and a sense of community to young people with cancer like myself, and directly help face associated pragmatic and emotional issues."
His inspirational story went viral, and he passed his £10,000 goal very quickly, so he raised his end goal to £1 million. Stephen's cause reached the likes of celebs like Simon Cowell, Stephen Fry and even Prime Minister David Cameron. Stephen tripled his original goal and at the time of his passing, Stephen had raised £3 million (over $5 million) for his charity. More than 50,000 people donated, and his fundraising broke all of JustGiving.com's records.
In late April, Stephen posted a "final thumbs up" to his followers after tumors caused one of his lungs to collapse. He was rushed to the hospital and hooked up to an oxygen machine. During the ordeal, Stephen posted this goodbye message:
It's a final thumbs up from me! I've done well to blag 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 too. Apologies for that.
There was 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…
All future updates on this page will probably be from a family member. I hopefully may have the energy to write a few tweets (@_StephensStory). I will continue fighting for as long as I can, and whatever happens next I want you 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've continually they've put towards me. And thank you everyone else for sharing this wonderful journey with me.
I love you all x
But in a "bizarre" medical twist, Stephen got better and was released from the hospital. And what did he do when he got out? He went back to spreading his inspirational message, raising money and ticking off items on his bucket list, like setting the Guinness World Record for "the most amount of people making heart-shaped hand gestures." He wrote on his Facebook page that the extra time was a "gift" he was "determined to use productively." Up until the very end, Stephen was working on making the world a better place.
"I don't actually do what I do for recognition," Stephen told BBC News about his mission. "I love nice comments but I do what I do because I find the best way to help myself is to help others. I'm proud of the feeling I get just by raising all this money."
Thank you for everything, Stephen. May you rest in peace.
You can continue to donate to Teenage Cancer Trust in Stephen's memory at his JustGiving page.