Stephen's story: The sad spectacle of a young life cut short should remind us that there's not a moment to waste

If you discovered that you were about to die, would your top priority be such an unselfish act?

 

Share

Taking life for granted is so easy. We often grumble our way through the day, forgetting that life is finite. We’ll never get those hours back. Do we really have time to waste on being unhappy?

The younger you are, the harder this is to process. Who believes that life can be taken away from them before they hit 30, 25 or even 20? But it happens. Just look at the sad and recent slew of young deaths. Peaches Geldof, suddenly found dead at 25, leaving behind a loving and devastated family. Dylan Tombides, the West Ham player, succumbing to testicular cancer aged 20 after a three-year battle with the disease. Not bothered about these two because you don’t like football or celebrity culture? Grow up and have some compassion. They had already achieved more than many. We’ll never know what else they could have done.

Now we see ordinary teenager Stephen Sutton, just shy of Dylan’s age, bravely facing the end of his life. Stephen’s story moves and inspires. After receiving his cancer diagnosis, he compiled his bucket list and promptly set about ticking items off the list, accelerating his teenage kicks by jumping out of aircraft, getting a tattoo and meeting the rich and famous. Sounds fun, and why not? Yet top of the list was a more altruistic goal – to raise a million pounds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. This money will help other young sufferers in the future – a future that Stephen will not get to see himself.

If you discovered that you were about to die, would your top priority be such an unselfish act? For most of us, the answer would be no, which is why so many people have got behind Stephen’s campaign. We’re touched by his resolve. His situation is desperate but his outlook is strong. Thanks to much celebrity support on Twitter, the total raised so far has exceeded £1.5m and may even reach £2m. It will keep rising, one suspects, after Stephen is gone.

Stephen’s not a saint. He’s an ordinary person in horribly extraordinary circumstances. Would I be as brave as him? No. But next time I grumble for no reason, and waste some minutes that I’ll never get back, I’ll think about Stephen, and tell myself to shut up. I suggest you do the same. As my teachers used to say, it’s your own time you’re wasting.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer / Systems Administrator

£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion this leading designer and sup...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would tackle our looming dementia crisis

Susan Greenfield
 

Letters: NHS data-sharing is good for patients

Independent Voices
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee