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New Zealand student’s speech after cancer diagnosis goes viral

9 November 2015 Latest News News World News


A New Zealand schoolboy who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in his final year at school has delivered an emotional valedictory speech, a video of which has gone viral.

Eighteen-year-old Jake Bailey, a senior monitor at Christchurch Boys’ high school, had prepared a speech for the school ceremony but was told 3 weeks before the event that he had cancer. Doctors warned him that intensive chemotherapy meant he would most likely be unable to attend.

Bailey, who has Burkitt lymphoma, was given day release from hospital to deliver his speech, according to the New Zealand Herald.

“I wrote this before I knew I had cancer, and now I have a whole new spin on it,” he said in his address, which has been watched more than 350,000 times on YouTube.

“Here’s the thing: none of us get out of life alive. So be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities that you have.”

Sitting in a hospital wheelchair, he continued: “Forget about long-term dreams. Let’s be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Work with passion and pride on what is in front of us. We don’t know where we might end up or when it might end up.

“I don’t know where it goes from here, for any of us – for me, for you. But I wish you the very best in your journey, and I thank you all for being part of mine.”

Bailey’s classmates responded with loud applause and a rendition of the school song. Some performed a haka in his honour. . Bailey mouthed “thank you” to his schoolfriends.

Nic Hill, the school’s headmaster, said the global response to the speech had overwhelmed him.

“Some of the stories have painted a more negative light on his prognosis than his reality. Jake is alive … it’s going to be very tough, incredibly tough, it will be very intensive treatment. However, the prognosis is good,” Hill told the New Zealand Herald.

“Jake needs to now look after himself. It’s this thing where he’s facing this amazing challenge. He’s inspiring others, but he really needs to be looking after himself.

“That was the thing about prize-giving as well. He didn’t want to let us down.”


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