Tributes flood in for teenage cancer hero
Described as a ‘credit to humanity’, Stephen Sutton, the 19-year-old who raised over £3 million for charity, has died. What message should we take from his death?
‘A true hero and an inspiration to us all’ wrote cricketer Kevin Pietersen. ‘I can hardly think of anyone I’ve met with such a belief that you can get things done’ said David Cameron.
These are among the tributes that flooded in for 19-year-old Stephen, from Staffordshire, who died of cancer in May.
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At the age of 15 Stephen was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer. Despite this, he dedicated his remaining years to raising more than £3.5m for the Teenage Cancer Trust – the largest ever single donation in its history.
He wanted to become a doctor — but when he found out that he could not be cured, he simply set his sights on different aims. He created a bucket list of things he wanted to achieve, among them skydiving, playing the drums at the UEFA Champions League final, hugging an elephant and getting a tattoo, all of which he accomplished.
But his greatest goal was raising £3m for charity. His cause gained worldwide attention on social media, and there was widespread grief at his death.
This is a tragic story. Cancer is responsible for more than one in four of all deaths in the UK, and we are still a long way away from a cure. But while Stephen’s fundraising was brilliant and unique, we cannot rely on rare and remarkable bursts of activism to find a cure for cancer or solve the world’s other problems.
Despite the sad loss of such a young life, Stephen was able to inspire thousands of people. He showed us that humans can achieve amazing, selfless things. And while people sometimes doubt the use of social media, Stephen proved that selfies and tweets can bring people together in the best way possible.
- Do you find this story depressing or uplifting? Or both?
- Can you think of someone else who was not particularly famous but who inspired many people?
Some People Say...
“It’s not the situation, it’s how I react to the situation that is important.”Stephen Sutton
What do you think?
- An act or statement to show thanks or respect for someone.
- Examine to find out the nature of an illness or other problem.
- Terminal bowel cancer
- Cancer is a disease caused by cell-division in the body; the bowel is part of the body’s digestive system; terminal means ‘ending’, so of illness that the patient will die because there is no known cure. Stephen’s charity is the Teenage Cancer Trust.
- Taking action, campaigning in order to achieve change.