Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Cancer Sucks But Life Is Great"

"It's a final thumbs up from me. It's a shame the end has come so suddenly -- there's so many people I haven't got round to properly thank or say goodbye to. Apologies for that."
"That's it from me. But life has been good. Very good."
"If it had been caught earlier it could have led to a better prognosis. It could have changed the situation. But even saying that, I'm not one to dwell on the past. It is what it is."
Stephen Sutton, 19, Staffordshire, England
Sutton posted his picture along with a farewell message to his supports in April. His story went viral, and he raised more than $5 million for charity before his passing.
British teen Stephen Sutton, who chronicled his battle with terminal bowel cancer in a series of positive blog posts, died on Wednesday.  Photo: Stephen Sutton / The Associated Press

"My heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son who passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning, Wednesday 14th May."
Jane Sutton, Staffordshire, England

"He was determined not to waste a minute, not to waste an hour or a day. I can hardly think of anyone I have met with such a zest for life, with such a belief that you can get things done and who wanted to live every minute."
"He was absolutely inspiring, he did extraordinary things for charity and meeting him was a huge privilege."
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Sometimes courage exists where one might least expect to find it, not with the determination to rise to the occasion of a physical challenge on a mountain expedition -- or to defend a companion from a bear attack, or dive into icy waters to save a child from drowning, or on the field of battle to distinguish oneself by hauling a fellow out of imminent danger -- but perhaps also and more spectacularly from a hospital bed with a diagnosis of death soon to arrive.

He could have been saved from the anguish and pain he was forced to undergo through circumstances beyond his control. When he originally presented with symptoms like stomach cramps, weight loss, illness and appetite loss in 2011, the doctors he consulted simply prescribed laxatives and sent him home to recover from what they diagnosed as constipation. That he had a family history of Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition capable of increasing the risk of bowel cancer appears to have been overlooked.

His condition continued to deteriorate, leaving him unable to keep down food and liquids, and the pain he experienced was too intense to enable him to sleep. He was finally given an emergency CT scan. And it revealed a blockage in his bowel. Surgery that took place a day later to remove the blockage resulted in a biopsy confirming that the growth was cancerous.

He had incurable bowel cancer. Incurable because it had advanced to a stage where nothing could really be done, no intervention that might restore the future to him.

Last year, he decided to raise charitable funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust, setting a target of ten thousand pounds ($18,300). He began writing of his experiences in a blog that became quite popular in Britain, mostly because of the sunny outlook of the blog entries showcasing the young man's pluck and determination. In the end, his fund-raising succeeded to the extent of raising $5.9-million for the Trust. Hours after his death was announced an additional $220,000 rolled in.

Stephen Sutton was an athletic young man, playing soccer, competing in cross-country running. And then in 2011 he began suffer from stomach cramps, weight loss, loss of appetite. After his diagnosis he decided to list things he wanted to do or experience before his inevitable, too-soon death. He wanted to play drums at a stadium, to travel to CERN in Switzerland, to hug an elephant, and to get a tattoo.

Impulsively full of life's opportunities, unwilling to withdraw from life before he was forced to, he was a life-force of his own, impressing people who became aware of him.

"He's one of the most amazing people I've ever met. To still be thinking, even on his death bed, 'How could I help others?' -- he is absolutely inspiring", said Jason Manford who had assisted in the young man's fundraising efforts.

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