I have just sat down to write a column for the Herald. It is another experience I couldn't have foreseen two years ago - a recurring theme.

For those unfamiliar with my story, in late 2015, aged 18, I was diagnosed with a type of cancer. It happened to be the fastest growing that exists. It was stage 4 when diagnosed and I was given two weeks to live without treatment, and not necessarily a guarantee of life either way.

But, spoiler alert, thanks to some incredible medical treatment and some awesome people, I made it through that and along the way received some attention for a speech I made while I was going through my chemo.

Since then, I have written a book and worked with a documentary crew to share my story. I have also been doing public speaking full time, for schools and companies. I've been incredibly fortunate to be able to share my story, and it's an opportunity I've embraced fully.


As cheesy as it sounds, my goal throughout has been to help other people by sharing what my cancer has taught me. I can honestly say having cancer has made me a better person, and that's something I love to share in the hope others take something away from my story, without going through it themselves.

I'm well aware my experience isn't unique - many people every day walk the same path I did, and don't receive the same attention.

I didn't ask for this attention but I recognised pretty early on I could use it to help other people. That's not only about sharing my story, but also about giving my support to two charities I'm hugely passionate about - Maia Health Foundation in New Zealand, and Tour de Cure in Aussie.

Now I have another incredible opportunity, which is to write a weekly column for the Herald.

I don't intend it to be about cancer or about adversity, although I'm not going to go out of my way to avoid them, either. I want to talk about things from a youth perspective, and about things that mean something to me.

I don't claim to be the most qualified teenager to be writing this now.

I can assure you that having cancer once, for three months, doesn't make me the keeper of all knowledge, and that the secrets to happiness aren't hidden somewhere in bags of chemotherapy.

And I don't deny I wouldn't have been presented with all the opportunities I have had over the past two years, including this one, had it not have been for a situation I happened to find myself in - it's nothing to do with earning it through hard work.


I'm sure a few will chuckle, and say, 'I thought I knew everything when I was that age as well.' And fair enough, but I don't claim to know everything. I don't even claim to be right.

I'm just continuing with my plan of taking every opportunity thrown my way, in the hopes it might have some value to others - whether that is a cancer patient who doesn't have the same platform I have had to share their experiences with the disease, or the youth of New Zealand, who would probably benefit from being a bit more represented in the media.

I hope you might find some value in it, whether you fit into either of those categories or not, even if that value is in disagreeing with me completely. I'm really looking forward to that polarity in response to sharing my views.

True to form of the past two years, I don't know where it goes from here - but I'm looking forward to finding out with you.