When cancer sufferer Jake Bailey gave his moving speech at his school prizegiving he had no idea it would go viral.

But after it was posted online, it made headlines around the globe - and caught the eye of a woman halfway across the world.

Speaking to the Sunday programme last night, the former Christchurch Boys High head boy revealed how his fame gained him a keen admirer from Turkey.

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Jake Bailey: What cancer taught me


"I was laying in bed one morning, having a sleep in, and mum came woke me up and said, 'I've just been on the phone with the police'," the 19-year-old said.

"My mind was scrambling, what have I done that the police know about that I wouldn't want mum to know about," he said.

But his mother Janine Harrington told him he'd gained his first stalker - all the way from Turkey.

"I got a phone call to say there was a woman who'd come from Turkey to New Zealand - her goal was to marry Jake," she said.

The woman had clearly done her research - she knew where Bailey's mum worked and where they lived.

"I didn't know I was worth it," Bailey said.

However travelling across the world didn't quite work out for the Turkish woman - Bailey says he remains unmarried after "some really good work between the police and immigration".

Bailey, who had Stage 4 Burkitt non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is now in remission 18 months on from giving his school's end-of-year prizegiving that went viral.

In the video, a frail-looking Bailey told students from his wheelchair that "none of us get out of life alive. So be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities that you have."


Bailey received well-wishes from around the world after more than 1.7 million people watched the speech on YouTube.

His new book What Cancer Taught Me will be released later this month and a documentary about his life The Common Touch will screen at the Documentary Edge Festival in Wellington on May 11 and in Auckland on June 3.