Despite an incurable diagnosis, Stephen remained positive and determined to make a difference up until his death in May 2014. To date Stephen’s Story has raised over £5.5 million for young people facing cancer.
Stephen was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 15. He was supported throughout his cancer experience by Teenage Cancer Trust and received his treatment in our three units in Birmingham.
Teenage Cancer Trust has helped me hugely throughout my own cancer battle ... they offer hope and a sense of community to young people with cancer like myself.
Stephen also attended many peer to peer support events, including our flagship weekend conference Find Your Sense of Tumour, an event that brings together 300 young people with cancer to learn, make friends, share experiences, build confidence and have fun. He said that attending the event in 2011 played a very important role in how he viewed his cancer.
In 2013 he decided to make a bucket-list of things he wanted to achieve via his Facebook page, with a goal of raising £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust at number one on his list. He later increased this to £500,000 and then updated it to £1 million.
I don’t see the point in measuring life in terms of time any more. I’d rather measure life in terms of making a difference.
After several rounds of treatment, Stephen was told his cancer was incurable. Sadly he died on 14 May 2014, but he left behind an incredible legacy for the 7 young people diagnosed with cancer every day who need our help.
Stephen’s fundraising total is the most an individual has ever raised for Teenage Cancer Trust, and he’ll be remembered in the UK and beyond for his positivity, determination and courage.
Stephen’s “thumbs up” moment
Stephen’s Story went viral when he posted what he thought was his last “thumbs up” photo from his hospital bed, on 22 April 2014. Already an ambassador and major fundraiser for Teenage Cancer Trust, Stephen captured the public's imagination in an overwhelming way in the following weeks.
I don’t think about my future and feel sorry for myself. In fact, I feel the opposite. My cancer has given me the opportunity to do something truly remarkable - and educate people about cancer.
Comedian and long-term Teenage Cancer Trust supporter, Jason Manford, who had met Stephen at the charity’s Royal Albert Hall concert series in March, created the Thumbs Up for Stephen campaign on social media and vowed to take the fundraising to £1 million. Stephen was featured in an amazing array of news outlets both local and global, and supported by a host of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, Piers Morgan, Clare Balding, Gary Lineker, Steve Coogan, Carol Vorderman, Caitlin Moran and even the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP.
Over 182,000 donations have been made online to Stephen’s JustGiving page and over 150,000 by text and these keep rising. He continues to inspire a huge number of legacy fundraising events.