If life had gone according to plan, Jake Bailey would be studying commerce and law at the University of Auckland.
But instead a battle with Burkitts Hodgkinson lymphoma – and one very famous speech – has turned him into a motivational speaker in high demand.
STAYING STRONG: Jake Bailey spoke to St Patrick’s College leadership group on Wednesday. Picture: Kate Healy
Jake, now 19, was head monitor at Christchurch Boys’High School when he was diagnosed on October 29, 2015.
But his desire to show true leadershipmade him appear on stage –albeit in a wheelchair – only days after it was confirmed he had the highly aggressive cancer and give his valedictory speech. The 20 minute, emotional orationwent viral and has been seen by more than a million people worldwide.
“I wanted to be a leader who lit during the tough times as well as the easy times,” Jake said.
“Iwanted to continue showing leadership until the very last minute and part of that was being able to get out there and do the speech.”
On Wednesday, Jake spoke toSt Patrick’s College’s 2017 leadership group about his three key leadership values: humility, relatability and inclusivity.
However, Jake also said he was grateful for his three month cancer battle which had “forced me to take a step back”.
“I appreciate my life more now.”
Since he went into remission on January 29 last year, Jake has moved to the Gold Coast with his girlfriend Jasmine and speaks widely to schools, corporate groups and at medical conventions.
“I’ve received incredible support, not only at the time of the speech but ever since. It’s been very powerful for me.”
A book on Jake’s battle will be released in May which he co-wrote with Nicola McCoy, largely from the “40,000 word speeches I’d written during my time in hospital”. A documentary,called The Common Touch, is also due out shortly.
However, he says one of his favourite roles is speaking at schools. “I really enjoy it. It’s my favourite thing to do.
“There’s this universal lad ship. I spend 20 minutes there and it’s just like I’m one of the guys again.”
Jake was invited to Ballarat by St Patrick’s College boarding director Mike Silcock, who heard him speak at an Australian Boarding Schools Association Conference and immediately related to his messages of resilience and leadership.
He will also speak at Ballarat Grammar.
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