Teenage cancer hero Stephen Sutton has been given fresh hope of spending more precious time with his family and friends – after undergoing a successful operation to clear a tumour.
The inspiring 19-year-old has raised over £3million for The Teenager Cancer Trust – smashing his original target of £1million.
He touched the hearts of millions when he posted a smiling picture of himself with his ‘thumbs up’ in hospital warning people he was facing “one hurdle too many” on Easter Sunday.
Led by comedian Jason Manford, 32, celebrities and supporters rallied around the teenager after hearing he had already raised £500,000 on his JustGiving page.
And incredibly, after an internet campaign to raise money went viral, Stephen flew past his £1million target and was yesterday heading towards £3.5million.
Last week Stephen revealed he had coughed up one tumour that was preventing him from breathing normally.
But now surgeons have removed parts of another tumour from the teenager’s airway and the hope is that his right lung may start to get larger again.
His breathing is now being monitored regularly as surgeons hope to see improvement over the coming days.
Writing on his ‘Stephen’s Story’ Facebook page, he told his millions of supporters: “This morning I had the operation and everything went well!
“The aim was to remove anything nasty that was blocking my airway and maybe put a stent in.
“There is still some tumour in my lung, but the surgeon is confident he has removed as much of the tumour from my airway as possible, so much so he thought putting the stent in wasn’t necessary as my airway seemed to be pretty fully clear, which is great news.
“The airway will need monitoring, but the outcome now is that my right lung may start to re-expand and my breathing generally stay functional for as long as possible!”
Stephen, from Burntwood, Staffs., was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010 when he was 15 but despite having the tumour removed from his bowel it returned the next year.
Doctors told him the cancer was incurable and told him he would be unlikely to survive more than a few years while tumours spread to his lungs.
The brave teenager only set up a 46 part bucket-list of things to do before he dies and at the top of his list was to raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
But after smashing the total his ultimate aim was to reach a staggering total of £1million.
Last Friday, Stephen released a nine-minute YouTube video called When Life Gives You Cancer, featuring interviews with his mum, his school teachers and his best friend.
In the clip, the brave teen talks about his personal goals and how he has dealt with terminal cancer.
He says: “I may have cancer, but cancer does not have me.”
His head teacher, Stewart Jones, added: “Stephen is the most amazing person I’ve ever met, let alone the most amazing student.”
Emma Scholes, head of year nine, said: “He has stuck two fingers up to cancer.”
After being told his cancer was inoperable, Stephen drew up his bucket-list last January and he has now managed to tick off 36 of the 46 tasks.
Yesterday the amount Stephen had raised stood at £3,156,871.91
Facebook users were thrilled with the latest news, with thousands leaving messages of support.
Pauline Devaney Jepson wrote: “This is great news, you inspire me with every one of your posts.”
And Natalie Howell added: “What an inspirational young man you are, so many people could learn from you. I’ve just donated and I wish you well.”
Meanwhile, friends of the teenager now hope they can help him cross something else off his famous bucket list by breaking a world record this weekend.
School friend Hannah Telles and her mother Maria Tucker plan to get 600 people together to make a heart-shaped gesture at the same time at Chase Terrace Technology College on Sunday at 3pm.
If successful the event, which was being organised by Stephen before his health deteriorated, will set a Guinness World Record.
Miss Telles said: “We chose the heart-shaped hand gesture because it fits with Stephen’s positive outlook on life.
“We all love Stephen and we want to show him just how much he has touched all of our hearts.”