Real Life

Head boy battling cancer gives moving final speech

They told me I wouldn't be here tonight to deliver this speech.

The courageous head boy of Christchurch Boys’ High School has delivered a moving speech in the wake of his deadly cancer diagnosis.

Jake Bailey, 18, was diagnosed with cancer a week ago and given three weeks to live. He was allowed out of the hospital to attend his school prizegiving, where he delivered a heartfelt and inspiring speech which has been shared around the globe.

“I wrote a speech, and a week before I was due to deliver this speech tonight they said, ‘You’ve got cancer’.

“They said, if you don’t get any treatment within the next three weeks you’re going to die. Then they told me I wouldn’t be here tonight to deliver this speech.”

In his moving address, Jake encouraged his peers to seize all of life’s opportunities and live without regret.

“None of us get out of life alive, so be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities you have.”

Wheeled on stage in his wheelchair, Jake urged students not to take their lives for granted.

“We don’t know where we might end up, or when we might end up.”

Jake was diagnosed with Burkitts non-Hodgkin lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that can be fatal without intense chemotherapy.

Quoting Jim Rohn, Jake went on to say: “Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”

With strength and wisdom well beyond his years, Jake’s speech captivated the large school audience, and has gone on to be shared around the world.

“The future is truly in our hands. Forget about long term dreams, lets be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short term goals.”

He ended his speech with the school motto, “Altiora Peto”, which is a Latin phrase meaning “I aim higher”.

Jake’s speech was met by roaring applause and a spontaneous haka.

WATCH: Christchurch Boys’ High School students give Jake Bailey a rousing haka

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Principal Nic Hill told Stuff that he had been prepared to deliver the speech on Jake’s behalf, but was glad the teen was able to deliver it himself.

“It was great that Jake was reading it instead of me. I know how sick he is and I was amazed at how strongly he spoke,” the principal said. “He is strong and there is just a spark about him. He is just rock solid, with x-factor.”

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