For a young man with a compromised immune system, Jake Bailey spends a lot of time in school assembly halls surrounded students in contact with all the latest colds, and flu strains in order to tell people what he learned about cancer.
Jake’s end of year speech at Christchurch Boys High School in 2015 went viral. The speech was made days after he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and told that without treatment he had three weeks to live.
With the cancer in remission, the survivor is now carving out a new career as an inspirational speaker and told Tauranga Boys College senior pupils about the turnaround in his life on Friday.
His visit to the college this year followed a missed date last June when he spoke at the Waipuna fundraising breakfast, but fell ill and had to cancel the college speech.
“Before he left he had a call from his specialist saying he should be in hospital,” says hospice fundraising manager Trish Rae.
This year he was in the Waikato and was able to complete the Boy’s College appearance on his way out of town, so to speak. He left the college for the airport to catch a flight to Christchurch.
Since last year he's published a book titled What Cancer Taught Me, and signed copies were on sale at the school. Written from a collection of ideas he wrote during his three months isolation in Christchurch hospital.
In an arrangement with Paper Plus, every copy sold in Tauranga before the end of the month will result in $5 going to the hospice – which is also gearing up or dressing down for Wear Shorts 4 Waipuna on the solstice June 21.
While he’s happy to visit schools, the 19-year-old is finished with education for now.
“I really enjoy public speaking and the opportunities I have been given,” says Jake. “Study might be something for the future, but for now my priorities are my health, my body and making the most of the opportunities I have been presented with while it lasts.
“That’s my priorities for now, but in the future I would consider going back into study or something similar to that.”
Jake says he can sign 200 books in 15 minutes. But adds that publishing the book hasn’t changed the message.
“The message is still pretty much the same, it’s what I learned a while ago. While publishing a book taught me a lot, it’s not stuff I need to share with lots of people. Not particularly useful I would imagine.”