Jake Bailey became a worldwide viral hit when he delivered his New Zealand school's prize-giving speech from a wheelchair
Jake Bailey, the head boy of a Christchurch secondary school whose prize-giving speech made just after his cancer diagnosis, has revealed that he is in remission.
The New Zealander’s oration while wheelchair bound on the stage of the auditorium of Christchurch Boy’s High School became a worldwide hit, with Bailey passionately encouraging his classmates to live life to the fullest just a week after being diagnosed with Burkitt’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer.
This morning, having completed three months of intensive chemotherapy treatment, the 18-year-old announced in a statement that the prognosis looks positive.
After three months of intensive chemotherapy, Jake Bailey's Burkitt’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is in remission [Jake Bailey]
"Recent tests show that my treatment has been successful and I am officially in remission," he said.
"There will be a lot of follow-up care over the coming years and cancer makes no guarantees but for now, I can get on with my life.
"But I'm just grateful to be alive."
The Kiwi thanked his family, doctors, schoolmates, teachers, and “the nurse who encouraged me to get out of my hospital bed and deliver my final speech.” He also said that the worldwide reaction to his words had been a huge surprise.
“I was blown away by what an impact my words had on strangers but then I was blown away by what an impact strangers’ words had on me. Some of the letters I received were incredibly humbling.
“The thing about facing death is that you get to rethink exactly you are and who you want to be if you are lucky enough to get the chance. I want to make a difference more than ever before. Our lives are simply too fleeting not to.”
The footage of Bailey making the speech at the fee-paying boys’ school was released in November 2015 and has now garnered more than 1.6m views.
Bailey has said he will take a gap year before heading on to university and plans to use the time to fully recover his strength and visit more schools to talk to other young people about the challenges they face.
"The chemotherapy has taken a huge toll on my body,” he said. “It has left me with ongoing issues and it will take me time to get back to where I was previously.
"Sometimes I feel more like I'm 81 than 18."