Obituary: Jed Roberts' battle with leukaemia

By Obituary by Michele McPherson

When friends and family asked Jed Roberts "How are you?", he would often respond with, "I'm good. More importantly, how are you?"
Despite fighting acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the gutsy Papamoa teen was always thinking of others.
Jed loved life by the beach in Papamoa where he lived with his parents, Debbie and Dean Roberts, and 15-year-old sister, Lia.
"In the summer every night after school he would swim and, in the winter, he would walk his two boxer dogs. We guessed the beach was his 'happy place'," Mrs Roberts said.
While attending Mount Maunganui College in late 2009, Jed began complaining of normal teenage ailments - tiredness and sore legs - which Mrs Roberts put down to early starts at a new weekend job and growing pains.
But a rash saw them book a visit to his doctor and the happy-go-lucky teen's world came crashing down around him when he was diagnosed with leukaemia, a week before his 16th birthday.
He died 19 months later after a battle fought with courage and dignity and an enduring sense of optimism for the future.
Jed moved to Tauranga from Whangarei with his family when he was nine months old and grew up a "normal" Kiwi kid attending Papamoa Playcentre, Papamoa Primary School and playing soccer at the local sports ground.
He had a thirst for information and used his love for reading as a way to pass the long days in hospital.
"When he was well enough, he would spend the day reading the daily newspapers cover to cover, including the business section as his goal was to go to university and study business.


"Often when he would get a new book, he would start it in the afternoon and finish it by bedtime," Mrs Roberts said.
After his diagnosis, Jed never returned to school but disciplined himself to carry on his work via correspondence and studied NCEA Level 2 papers.
"This year, he had every intention of studying more Level 2 and Level 3 papers," Mrs Roberts said.
In October last year, the charitable foundation Make-a-Wish New Zealand granted Jed his wish to meet his heavy metal heroes Metallica.
Fighting the effects of intensive chemotherapy, the meeting with the four band members backstage before their Auckland concert was a dream come true.
Even from his hospital bed, Jed found ways to make others smile.
Nurses at Starship described Jed as a gentle, dignified young man whose humour would always be remembered.
"Here we have this kid fighting cancer yet he stopped and took time to think about everyone else," Mrs Roberts said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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