Jackson Alexander has had a tough year.

He's battling stage four cancer, and last year he survived 12 hours on Mt Ruapehu after he got lost snowboarding.

The former Napier Boys' High School student was alone but refused to give up. His only injury was a broken rib.

It was only his third time up the mountain and he "didn't realise the high level of danger at the time".

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He said people were amazed at his story.

"I'm probably lucky that I didn't realise the severity of it at the time," the 21-year-old says.

"The rib doesn't hurt anymore so that's good. It kind of moves every now and then, and the scar tissue and the swelling is still kind of there a little bit."

He was diagnosed with stage three melanoma skin cancer on Daffodil Day 2014, while at secondary school.

It became so serious that he was admitted to hospice, but again defied the odds.

He has endured several surgeries and his cancer has been upped to stage four - terminal cancer.

"You have to be positive otherwise you're just going to be a sad sack and I don't want that for my life, so that's why I have decided to be positive and do things that I want to do when I want to do them."

He now relies on an unfunded drug to keep him alive, which he has been on for about 11 months.

It is producing good results, with continued shrinkage of the tumor.

"My health is as good as it has been in the past year and a half.

"We have done a lot of fundraising throughout the year and a lot of people have done other fundraising for us as well and a lot of donations that have basically kept me alive. We still have our monthly cost that's quite expensive.

"I let Dad kind of take care of the financial side just so it's one less thing for me to have to worry about in my day to day life, otherwise everything is just too much."

Now back at work as an apprentice builder with Peter Davies Construction, he is focused on the future and hopes to finish his apprenticeship - having completed two and a half years.

However, he also aspires to be a policeman or dog handler or part of the Armed Offenders Squad - a dream he has had since a child.

Although, he says the police advice was to "wait until you are a little bit older, mid 20s once I've grown up, matured a bit and lived a little".

"I fully understand that. I also enjoyed woodwork at school and wanted to be a builder and did work experience in my last year at high school with my current boss."

Since being diagnosed, he has become "more aware of life".

"You value people's time more I feel, just because accidents happen and one day they could be with you and one day they might not. So valuing people's time is a big thing of mine too and not taking things for granted."

In 2018, he plans to "try and be as healthy as I can by working and exercising and still having a social life because that is quite a big thing I reckon".

"You can't just be labelled the sick kid and I'm feeling great. You wouldn't even know that I have cancer."

He wanted to thank everyone for their support.

"It's nice to know that there are people in Hawke's Bay who are doing their little bit to help out."