“The lad is not angry he has to leave the party early instead he is really grateful that he was invited in the first place…” these are the words of Comedian Jason Manford spoken recently in reference to a 19 year old teenager with incurable disease who, according to his facebook page (Stephen’s Story) is just trying to enjoy life as much as possible, while raising funds for charity to help others.
Stephen Sutton, from Staffordshire, was diagnosed with bowel cancer when he was 15. Despite surgery, the aggressive cancer spread to different parts of his body and, after further treatment and operations, doctors concluded it was incurable.
In January, last year after realising he had just few days to live Mr Sutton, among other things, set out to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Before he died on the 14th of May 2014 with the help of a host of celebrities Stephen’s story has raised over £3,000,000. Long after Stephen’s passing people are still donating to his cause. Today as I write five months later donations through Stephen’s justgive page stands at over five million pounds.
Apart from raising millions for charity, which is a remarkable selfless achievement in its own right, the most touching facet of Steven’s Story is how the teenager managed to stay graciously happy despite what he was going through. Jason Manford, one of the high profile individuals who helped Stephen raise millions of pounds for his good cause was moved by Stephen’s upbeat attitude after visiting him at Teenage Cancer Trust Ward in Birmingham.
Mr Sutton was determined to live his life to the full despite his health concerns. At
19, Mr. Sutton was not angry that his life was coming to an end. Instead he was grateful to be immensely privileged to have lived in the first place. He dislikes the term “dying from my cancer” instead he prefers to say, “I am living with cancer, despite it being there”. Stephen said before he died, “The tumours in my body are still rife and dangerous, but I feel so lucky to just still be here, and in fact I feel completely privileged to be in this position where I can help make such a difference to other peoples’ lives.”
Stephen’s attitude leaves any rational human heart with nothing less than a breath-taking experience. I don’t know about you, but I find words such as these below (and the ones I’ve cited already) to be infectiously inspiring…
Hi everyone, it’s Stephen here- still here and still fighting!!! …Sunday morning (20.4.14) my right lung collapsed: I had a full emergency team surrounding me and in all honesty was probably not too far from nearly leaving you all…I am still in a very vulnerable position. I am very limited in what I can do and am still permanently hooked up to oxygen. But I am in high spirits and blessed to have so much love and support around me. To get to see the million pound fundraising target being reached was just phenomenal!… The plan is to adopt things day by day. Just keep on keeping on like I always have. …The battle is physically and mentally very demanding. But I am happy- and that’s the main thing!
For me, Stephen’s story is yet another proof that human beings, regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in, always possess the ability to choose to be bitter or better. My own humble experiences have taught me that we become bitter in choosing the thoughts of pain – the ‘what should have been’, (… why me?… it’s too early to die…. What if…). On the other hand we become better by being grateful for the gifts God has given us and for the privileged opportunity to be part of His magnificent plan to improve the lives of others.
The secret of gratefulness is to number our blessings. Not dwelling on the pain, loses, or unfulfilled dreams. Instead, to cast your mind on the good things and the moments that God really graced your life with. If what you cherished is coming to an end don’t be sad that it’s ending, be glad that it is part of your glorious life story after all.
Today, as we learn to be grateful let’s remember the timeless wisdom that says,
life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take but by the moments that take our breath away…
May you enjoy your great moments!