(Photo: Facebook/Stephen's story)
Britain is now grieving after Stephen Sutton, a brave teenager who used his terminal bowel cancer diagnosis to inspire people from across the world to donate more than $6 million to the local Teenage Cancer Trust, died from his disease Wednesday.
"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," wrote Stephen's mother, Jane, in a message posted on a Facebook page dedicated to Stephen with more than a million fans.
"The ongoing support and outpouring of love for Stephen will help greatly at this difficult time, in the same way as it helped Stephen throughout his journey. We all know he will never be forgotten, his spirit will live on, in all that he achieved and shared with so many," she said.
Stephen's death drew tributes from British Prime Minister David Cameron who had paid him a visit just weeks before his death.
"I'm deeply saddened to hear that Stephen Sutton has died. His spirit, bravery and fundraising for cancer research were all an inspiration," Cameron noted in a Tweet Wednesday.
Many other celebrities and members of the public like Gary Morgan posted well wishes on social media.
"In a world where there is so much pain, violence and hatred, it is beautiful to see Stephen's selfless act of love. In a world where we seem to have less time for each other, help us to learn from Stephen's example. R.I.P in God's eternal care," wrote Morgan.
The 19-year-old had a bucket list of more than 40 items as he slowly and inspirationally prepared to face his death but at the top of that list was to share his story and raise money to help young cancer victims.
Stephen explained on his Just Giving campaign page that he hoped to raise just £10,000. The response to his campaign however was so overwhelming, as of Friday evening donations were closing in on £4 million.
"Last year I posted a bucket list online and start blogging my journey on www.facebook.com/stephensstory. Since then 'Stephen's Story' has grew (sic) exponentially and I've achieved all kinds of fun and wonderful things…Number 1 on my bucket list, and by far the most important thing to me, was to raise £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust but I think it's fair to say we've smashed that total!!! But why stop there?!" he wrote. And people just kept on giving.
The Teenage Cancer Trust is dedicated to improving the quality of life of cancer victims 13-24 as they face the disease through research and other means.
In a message on the organization's website, Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, praised Stephen for his bravery and optimism.
"Stephen was an exceptional young man and ambassador for Teenage Cancer Trust. He will be remembered for his incredible positivity by all who met or connected with him," said the CEO. "Stephen didn't measure life in time, preferring instead to measure it by the difference someone makes. Stephen has made an enormous difference to Teenage Cancer Trust and the seven young people diagnosed with cancer every day who need our help."