Stephen Sutton: Inspirational teenager who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15 and went on to raise millions for charity


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The Independent Online

Stephen Sutton died from cancer at the age of 19 after many significant achievements for himself and for others, including raising more than £3.6 million for his favourite charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Sutton was born in 1994 in Burntwood, Staffordshire, attending the local school; he played football and cross country. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in September 2010 at the age of 15 and decided to use his limited time left to the best. "I don't see the point in measuring life in terms of time any more," he said. "I'd rather measure life in terms of making a difference". He had intended to study medicine.

In January last year he wrote a bucket list of 46 "weird and wonderful" things to do before he died. Among these were to write a book, to go to CERN in Switzerland and to get a tattoo. He had been able to tick off many items from this list. Top of the list was a challenge to himself to raise £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust. Through social media and the internet fund-raising site JustGiving he raised awareness of his situation and of young people living with cancer. When his initial target was soon reached, he raised the bar to £1 million. By yesterday he had raised more than £3.6 million.

Sutton had been discharged from Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 2 May, saying that he had coughed up a tumour and was feeling much better. However, he had to return to hospital earlier this week with breathing difficulties.

His book, Stephen's Story: A 19-Year-Old's Life Lessons on Making the Most of Your Time, co-written with Stefan Wissenbach, was published last week. Wissenbach, a corporate coach, described seeing Sutton speak in front of 4,000 people at an event in January: he "stood out immediately, as he walked onto the stage. Stephen, a 19-year-old, walked out in front of this enormous crowd of executives and business people, and told us his story."

Sutton ended his speech that day by saying, "I have loads of motivation, but little time left to use it. Well, you can't give me your time to make me live longer, but I can try to give you some of my motivation to enjoy your life, and make a difference." He certainly made a difference to many affected by cancer. The comedian Jason Manford, who supported his fund-raising campaign, said " had a fulfilling life full of special moments and you will live long in the memory of thousands, if not millions, of people."

Stephen Sutton, fund-raiser: born Burntwood, Staffordshire 16 December 1994; died Birmingham 14 May 2014.