A one-time Kiwi Commonwealth Games running hopeful has penned a moving book on his race for life.

In early 2011 Josh Komen - who at the time was one of New Zealand's fastest 800m runners - was charting a path to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But that dream was shattered when, aged just 23, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Following his diagnosis in 2011 the then competitive runner was angry; both at his sickness, and his body for not fighting it off.

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The overwhelming negativity was "swallowing him up", he said.

"I was thinking, 'I'm weak, I'm pathetic and I'm a loser'."

After eight years of battling cancer, and a myriad of other health problems, a much happier Komen has written a book about his journey to hell and back, titled The Wind at my Back.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday ahead of its release early next month, Komen said he hoped it would help others - whether they were going through a similar thing, or simply needing a motivation boost.

"It's not a magic pill or anything, but maybe someone can go 'hey, if he did that then maybe I can do this'," the 31-year-old said.

"If that's the case, then my pain has been worth it."

At the begining of 2011 Komen was at physical peak.

But his Commonwealth Games dream was dashed after being diagnused with leukaemia shortly after collapsing during a cycling race in May 2011.

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He ended up in hospital after the crash. A seriously swollen eye originally picked as an infection was eventually diagnosed as leukaemia.

Komen with his sister and brother - who helped him through many rough patches in hospital. Photo / Supplied
Komen with his sister and brother - who helped him through many rough patches in hospital. Photo / Supplied

It was a shattering blow for both him and his family; with Komen adding the reality of the prognosis didn't truly hit home until he began treatment.

"That night and the next day I had four blood transfusions. It was like, 'only dopers do this what's going on, this isn't me'."

Komen said each new setback during his treatments unleashed a wave of anger. His mental state sank to an all-time low.

"I was really, really angry at life," he said.

"One night when I was allowed out of hospital . . . I thought 'I'm just going to end my life'."

It was the thought of his family that pulled him back from the brink. Weighing up his future, he caught sight of a cup of tea his mum left on the table in the room behind him.

"I felt my mum's love going to my heart," he said. "Just so much love."

He then sought professional help.

"I realised that it wasn't me that wanted to die . . . It was the situation that I wanted to die," he said.

"It changed my mentality towards it - I got stuck into writing, cried when I needed to, reached out for help when I needed to."

Komen went through seven months of treatment for the cancer, then settled into a recovery period. Shortly after, he received a call from a friend, proposing the pair travel to Nepal, to climb to the base camp of Everest.

Komen has been an avid skydiver since completing a course in Methven. As per the 'unihundy' tradition, he stripped down to his underwear for his 100th jump. Photo / Supplied
Komen has been an avid skydiver since completing a course in Methven. As per the 'unihundy' tradition, he stripped down to his underwear for his 100th jump. Photo / Supplied

It had earlier been a "childhood dream" of the pair.

The trek up to Base Camp was tough work, but Komen said he'd come to appreciate the "good pain".

The months following were a whirlwind of activity - Komen spent some time travelling in South East Asia, then returned to New Zealand for a skydiving course in Methven.

But soon after, his leukaemia returned.

He went through two months of treatment, but it soon became clear things weren't as simple this time.

He was evenutally put into a coma ahead of a treatment procedure, and was told there was a fair chance he might not wake up.

The odds? Komen didn't ask, didn't want to know.

Subsequent years have seen him receive a stem cell transplant, battle a chronic pain disorder and also suffer several heart attacks; the latter which saw a stent being inserted in his left main artery.

His treatment for leukaemia continues, with Komen travelling to Melbourne for specialist care every two months.

But he focusses on the positive sides of life; including his relationship with girlfriend, Sibille, and his part-time job at Greymouth High School.

Komen during the stem cell transplant, which he says saved his life. Photo / Supplied
Komen during the stem cell transplant, which he says saved his life. Photo / Supplied

Komen works with high-need students at the school and drove the same group in a dedicated school bus.

"The main thing is having the body back in a position where I can get out of bed, with no pain and a clear head, pick up some kids and just feel like I'm contributing back into society," he said.

"Man, I'm driving this bus and I'm just crying tears of gratitude."

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
There are lots of places to get support.
For others, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/