30 Jan 2016

Inspirational Chch teen in remission

8:16 am on 30 January 2016

A Christchurch teenager with cancer who shot to international fame last year after his school prize-giving speech became an internet sensation, is now in remission.

Jake Bailey

Jake Bailey is now in remission. Photo: Supplied

Christchurch Boys' High School head boy Jake Bailey had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma only the week before his prize-giving speech.

He got a standing ovation for the inspiring address delivered from his wheelchair, which was subsequently viewed more than 1.6 million times on YouTube.

In a statement issued last night, the 18-year-old said after three months of intensive chemotherapy he was now in remission and "grateful to be alive".

He thanked his family, doctors and school and said he was touched by the public response to his speech.

"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."

Jake Bailey's full statement

"For the last three months, I have undertaken intensive chemotherapy for Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"In response to the incredible and at times overwhelming interest and support in my battle with cancer, I am now fortunate to be able to announce that recent tests show that my treatment has been successful and I am officially in remission.

"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.

"There is a massive team of people I want to thank. Firstly, my family and friends who have been on this long, rough journey with me. I could not have got through it without the people who have been by my side.

"My medical team from the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Christchurch Hospital. You saved my life. I am in great admiration and debt of your caring, with overwhelming respect for not only what you do but how you do it.

"The Christchurch Boys' High family for the amazing support they have given me. The benefit of such a tightknit brotherhood has been so evident.

"The public for their heartfelt messages which have been exceptionally uplifting. 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.

"I'd like to make special mention of the blood and platelet donors whose donations helped save my life. To the nurse who encouraged me to get out of my hospital bed and deliver my final speech at prizegiving. To the ward cleaner whose smiles always made a difference to my mornings. Thank you.

"Finally, I also want to mention the media, who don't always have a good reputation, but in my case have been extremely respectful to my family and I.

"I also want to acknowledge the other people who are undergoing treatment for cancer who have not necessarily received the same amount of support that I have. I wish them and their families the best. I hope, like us, you share times of genuine depth amongst your hardship - moments probably missed if we didn't have to go through this.

"The thing about facing death is that you get to rethink exactly who 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.

"So, during this gap year before I go to university, I would like to use my experiences to help young people or others who are facing challenges by telling my story in schools or other audiences if that might motivate or help others deal with their own struggles.

"The chemotherapy has taken a huge toll on my body. 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.

"But I'm just grateful to be alive."

-Jake Bailey