Dear Stephen (An Open Letter To Stephen Sutton 16th December 1994- 14th May 2014)

14 May

Dear Stephen Sutton,

This time yesterday I had no knowledge of who you were or what joy, light and life you had brought to the world. This time today I am still reeling, still silently sobbing over the fact that such a bright, hopeful, infectiously positive life can be snatched so suddenly from the lives of the people; both family, friends and worldwide, who loved you for your determined, humorous outlook on life and your desire to bring change to your society.

On the BBC News webpage for Stoke and Staffordshire, the tagline says in bold that ‘on learning of his terminal cancer diagnosis, Stephen Sutton was determined not to become a sob story’ and oh Stephen, let me (an unknown blogger who is about to finish her 1st year at Glasgow University), tell you, that your life; your wonderful, full, beautiful life was anything but a sob story- believe me. This post is not going to be a sob story. Nor is it going to be a blow by blow account of your life after the vicious bowel cancer that crashed into your world when you were 15 because you wouldn’t want that. Nobody wants that. This post is going to be about how you took the world by storm and became a flame glowing ever brighter through the following confusing years and how your life has changed the lives of the many who were lucky to know you.

If most people know you at all Stephen, it’s through the social media. Whilst supposedly revising this morning, I had a look through the Stephen’s Story’ Facebook Page and was completely blown away by the response your fundraising actions for the Teenage Cancer Trust got from the general public. The love you had for life and all its’ virtues shines through like a beacon of unquenchable hope through every word in every post and I can’t help but keep going back to the final update you wrote to the world.

‘The whole thing is very inconvenient aha. I had a few cool things planned to attend today, then tomorrow was due to appear on the telly on BBC Breakfast News! I understand my health is the obvious priority though and have had to cancel. Fingers crossed the issue will be resolved and that I’ll be out of hospital soon, I’ll keep you all updated with how I’m getting on :)’

The humour breaks through the darkness and as I read it, sitting in the library with my books open, I was very, very close to breaking down. All I could see was the iconic ‘thumbs up selfie’ floating in front of my line of vision; of the determined smile that rang through each word I read, the hope that burst through each picture I saw as I trawled through the photos with a soft smile playing at my lips as I came across ‘National Good Gesture Day’. The world needs more people like you Stephen, more people who see the good in humanity even when every single odd is stacked against them and yet still are determined to pull through and come out fighting with a smile on their face and fire in their hearts.

Stephen’s Story Facebook Page

Stephen, it’s been less than 24 hours now and the world is still reeling. Social media hasn’t been calm all day (is it ever calm?) and as I write this, more and more people are donating to your brilliant, brilliant Just Giving Page, liking the Facebook page, reading the articles on the BBC website and the Daily Mail amongst countless other media sites that have taken up your baton.

The Prime Minister, Ed Miliband, Clare Balding and many, many other celebrities have all expressed their sorrow at the news of your death, not just because of the fact that you are another ‘cancer patient’ but for that fact that someone so brave, so full of the joys of life could have been snatched so suddenly from this great, wide world we humans are so lucky to call home. Just 10 days ago, you were attempting the World Laughathon and guess what? They’ve even put up footage of the heart wrenchingly beautiful speech you gave on 10th January at SJP’s AGM held in the O2 Arena in London. (I’m yet to watch it, but I will; and when I do I will remember the courageous, generous selfless young man who has touched the hearts of so many and set the fires of change alight for a better, more hopeful tomorrow.)

It’s not over yet. As you say in your Facebook message on 8th May- ‘ I haven’t died yet, so I guess I’m needed a bit longer’. 

You will always be needed. You will always be loved, admired, respected, cherished in the hearts of so, so many both in the UK and abroad. You, your courage, your determination to see past the immediate problems and hindrances of your illness, your desire to let the world know about teenage bowel cancer and its’ effects will always be remembered. Did you know that Graham Gilmour wrote on the Facebook page that ‘if anyone deserves a state funeral, it’s Stephen’. See? The world won’t forget you in a hurry. Even when a supposed internet troll took advantage of your parents’ second last update yesterday to promote videos, the Facebook community swooped in like a pack of vultures and ripped said person limb from limb. Even you’ve got to admit that you’ve made quite an impact in the last forty eight hours!

The world will remember you Stephen. You will be remembered through your smiles, through your hope, through the now infamous heart shaped hand gesture as well as the thumbs up, through the now viral bucket list you compiled and nearly completed, through the light that shone constantly through your eyes even in the darkest of moments.

We will remember you Stephen. We will remember you and thank you constantly for all you have achieved in a life cut tragically short through no fault of your own. There’s no point in thinking of’ what could have been’ scenarios now, what could have happened if your cancer had been spotted earlier and not dismissed as constipation; but what needs to be done is to remember the glorious light and life you brought to the existence of so many who had the pleasure of knowing you.

In the words of David Cameron PM:

“I can hardly think of anyone I’ve met with such a zest for life, and such a belief that you can get things done, and who wanted to live every minute.

He was absolutely inspiring.”

Much love,

Phoenixflames12 xxxx 🙂

Link to Stephen’s Just Giving Page

Please feel free to donate and remember Stephen, the world isn’t going to forget you in a hurry! Sleep well x

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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Musings


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