The father of Stephen Sutton has told how he was inspired to continue his son’s cancer fundraising legacy after he battled the disease twice himself.
Andy Sutton has survived bowel cancer twice in the last month and was given the all-clear just months before his son became ill in 2010.
19-year-old Stephen, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, raised more than £4million for the Teenage Cancer Trust before his death in May 2014 at the Queen’s Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Both father and son developed Lynch syndrome - a genetic condition that significantly increases the chances of bowel and colon cancer.
Andy, who lives in Cannock, looks back on his son's achievements with pride.
"Stephen's legacy is just incredible, I'm very proud of him. I think people really took him because of his positive message and because of how brave he was. He has allowed us a platform to continue to spread the message, and if one person’s life is saved, then that is what he would want."
Andy’s first cancer scare came in 1989, when he was first diagnosed with bowel cancer, aged just 31.
He underwent an operation to remove part of his bowel and lower intestine at Stafford Hospital, followed by a short course of chemotherapy.The treatment was successful and he went back to living a normal life.
After the cancer scare Andy went on to have two children, Christopher, now 23 and studying for PHD in Maths at UCL and Stephen who melted the nation's heart as he courageously documented his efforts to complete his bucket list whilst battling colorectal cancer.
However in 2009, after suffering from symptoms, Andy was diagnosed with a tumour in his bowel.
“I started to notice a bit of blood, but I hadn’t lost any weight or anything like that like before,” recalls Andy.
“This time around it wasn’t all plain sailing, as I got a few infections, and I was in hospital for around a month,” he said.
After six months of chemotherapy he was finally given the all-clear.
During testing, lab results revealed he had Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition which means he had a high risk of developing bowel cancer.
Just months later, Stephen began suffering with sudden weight loss and constipation.
It was almost unimaginable that he could be diagnosed with bowel cancer so young.
"His mum took him to the doctors several times. No-one ever thought it could be cancer," he said.
“Everyone thought that Stephen was too young to get bowel cancer and you want to believe what you’re told by the medical profession, yet everyone now knows how wrong we all were.”
Stephen was finally diagnosed in December 2010 and underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.
Sadly, two years later it was discovered that the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs, and it was deemed incurable.
“After Stephen’s death I decided it was really important to raise awareness about bowel cancer Bowel cancer is very serious stuff and unfortunately a lot of men bury their head in the sand due to the very nature of it"
He is now supporting Bowel Cancer UK's Decembeard campaign calling on men to ditch their razors for the whole of December.
He hopes that he'll be able to help other families avoid the pain that he has suffered.
To support the campaign visit [www.decembearduk.org](For more information vist www.decembearduk.org ,http://www.decembeard.org/?gclid=COLqr-Tf58gCFROeGwodSzoHzw)