THE BLOG

Thank You Stephen - How You Can Continue His Legacy

15/05/2014 16:44 BST | Updated 14/07/2014 10:59 BST

Like most of the nation I have been gripped by Stephen's story and the extraordinary difference he has made in his short life despite being so desperately ill.

His rallying cry that "Life isn't measured in time, it's measured in achievements." His single handed raising of over £3.2m for the teenage cancer trust making him perhaps the most inspirational fundraisers of our time. And for speaking out and helping to smash some of the taboos that surround bowel cancer.

I desperately hope one of the legacies of Stephen's untimely death will be the increased awareness of a disease which is so preventable AND treatable if caught early. A disease which to those of us suffering with it, still feels like it is cloaked in a veil of shame.

You may be surprised that bowel cancer has the second highest mortality rate of ALL cancers. And yet it is one of the least spoken about. You may also be shocked to hear that it's on the rise in the young (in bowel cancer terms this is anyone under 50) with over 2000 new cases diagnosed each year, often at an advanced state due to misdiagnosis, as was the case for Stephen. And myself.

You may also be shocked that the two main bowel cancer charities; Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer have fewer funds at their disposal than the proposed bonus payment for the chairman of the HSBC bank this week!

It is just plain wrong to think of cancer in terms of popularity. But bowel cancer doesn't attract a fraction of the funding that other cancers do. And if we don't tackle this squeamishness over our bowels, we are without any shadow of a doubt allowing our blind eye, deaf ear or embarrassed silence to perpetuate this awful trend of late diagnosis, especially in those under 50.

And this lack of awareness, funding and speaking up is costing lives. Every 30 minutes.

Which means people like Stephen, and me, often present very late with our symptoms. Not being aware of their significance. And perhaps embarrassed by our deeply ingrained British reflex of NOT WANTING TO MAKE A FUSS about THAT part of our body!

Well I am making one now. For Stephen. For all the friends I have lost. And for all the friends I want to keep in future.

Please share and help. Pledge your support, your front pages, your celebrity platforms and your funds to help prevent more deaths from bowel cancer. We just have to do more.

Thank you x