The Christchurch student whose heart-wrenching speech to his school after he was diagnosed with cancer went global, has been buoyed in hospital by a daily influx of messages from supporters around the world.

One week before senior prizegiving, Christchurch Boys' High School senior monitor - or head boy - Jake Bailey was diagnosed with Burkitt non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and told he might not live to see the day.

But he was able to leave his hospital bed to deliver his speech from a wheelchair on November 4.

"Here's the thing, none of us get out of life alive. So be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities that you have," the 18-year-old said.


A video of the inspirational speech has now been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube.

His story has prompted people to write to him from all over the world.

Messages from India, Canada, USA, Caribbean, the UK, and "everywhere, really" have been passed on to Jake in hospital, a school spokeswoman today said.

"They are really good, heart-warming messages," she said.

"A lot of them are from Burkitt survivors with great advice and just sharing their journey. It's inspirational stuff."

Locals have offered to cook meals and support Jake's family in other ways.

"The community support for Jake and each other continues to be a source of strength," a school update says.

Infection remains a risk for Jake and visits are restricted, but yesterday he was visited by the president of the school's old boys' association and a member of the Dominion Branch Executive, who awarded him his old boys' tie.


The teenager was diagnosed with Burkitt - a fast-growing cancer which is fatal if left untreated - in late October.

He underwent about a week of intensive chemotherapy before delivering the speech.
"I wrote a speech. And then, a week before I was due to deliver that speech, they said, 'You've got cancer'," Jake told the audience at the prizegiving.

"They said, 'If you don't get any treatment within the next three weeks you're going to die'. And then they told me I wouldn't be here tonight to deliver that speech."

Headmaster Nic Hill said Jake's words had inspired people around the world.

"I think we're all just a bit humbled actually. It shows how great Jake's speech was and how courageous he actually was," Mr Hill said.

Messages of support and requests to visit Jake should be sent to Christchurch Boys' High School reception - email

What is Burkitt lymphoma?

• Burkitt lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, where cancer starts in the immune cells.
• It is recognised as the fastest growing human tumour.
• The cancer is related to impaired immunity and fatal if untreated.
• It was named after British surgeon Denis Burkitt, who first identified the disease among children in Africa in the 1950s. The cancer is rare outside Africa.
• Intensive chemotherapy is the preferred treatment.