The Christchurch head boy who gave a moving speech to his peers as he faced a deadly cancer diagnosis says looking back on that time is "dreamlike".

Jake Bailey gave his emotional speech from a wheelchair at the age of 19 last year, just days after his Burkitt non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis. He had been told he had only three weeks to live without treatment.

Bailey, who is now in remission, told NZ Herald Focus he is spending the next three and a half years focusing on keeping his body healthy.

"Eventually I reach the five year mark, which for lymphoma is the point at which the risk of having a relapse drops off significantly," he said.

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Bailey, who has a book and documentary about his story coming out, wants to help others.

I don't remember a lot of that time. It's almost dreamlike to look back on it because, yeah, I sort of see myself there but I don't remember having been there.

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"I feel like I've been given an opportunity to help other people through sharing my story. Sure, it's up to me whether I take that opportunity or not, but if I don't take it then I have to be able to justify that to myself. I have to live with the fact that I had an opportunity to, I think, help other people and I didn't follow through with that, so that's not something I'm willing to do."

He often had people come up to him and "say the loveliest things".

"I feel so privileged to be able to meet all these people and talk with them, because, you know, it makes me feel like what I do is worthwhile."

Looking back on his famous speech, which made international headlines, is "strange" for Bailey.

"It's sort of strange to look back on, it's almost sort of dreamlike," he said.

"I was at my very lowest during chemo . . . I was still very unwell. I don't remember a lot of that time. It's almost dreamlike to look back on it because, yeah, I sort of see myself there but I don't remember having been there."

The experience has taught Bailey about the importance of taking care of his body and health. The chemo has left his immune system vulnerable, but that is a sacrifice he's willing to make.

"My immune system's not what it used to be and that's alright. It can be frustrating at times just picking up the little colds and things like that, but it's a small price to pay."

Before cancer, Bailey said he used to hate clich├ęs about living life to the fullest.

"Now I've been through what I have, I realise that I only really hated them because I didn't understand them fully, and I think I do now."

What's next for Bailey?

It could be politics, it could be media, but first and foremost it's about focusing on his health.

"I will make everything else work around that."