Coast to Coast: Jake Bailey's road to recovery crosses Southern Alps

You may remember the name Jake Bailey - the Christchurch schoolboy who was told he only had weeks to live, due to one of the fastest-growing cancers known to man.

Instead of taking it easy, he's taking a different road to recovery via the Coast to Coast.

Bailey's spent the last year training and will join a three-man team competing in next weekend's Coast to Coast multisport race.

"Having gone through my cancer, it has made me want to push myself further and do more with my body than I ever have before, because I'm so grateful to be able to do it," he told Newshub.

Last November, his story caught the attention of the world.

Jake Bailey addresses Christchurch Boys High
Jake Bailey addresses Christchurch Boys High in 2015. Photo credit: Newshub.

Addressing his school - Christchurch Boys' High - while in a wheelchair, he delivered a now famous speech.

"So be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful for the opportunities you have," he told his schoolmates.

Just weeks before that speech, he was diagnosed with Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and told he only had weeks to live. 

"I don't remember a lot of the speech itself, to be honest," he said. "I was quite out of it, I was incredibly unwell at the time."

Jake subsequently suffered from peripheral neuropathy, leaving him barely able to walk.

Jake Bailey rehabs
Jake Bailey rehabs during cancer recovery. Photo credit: Newshub.

"When the doctors were saying, you know, 'hey, we don't know if your legs are ever going to get better, we don't know if you're ever going to walk again unassisted', so to be able to be here and taking part in the Coast to Coast is more than you could ask for," he added.

The 21-year-old now lives in Australia, often travelling as a public speaker, so he's had to make the most of hotel gyms to keep up with training.

The Coast to Coast is known as one of the most gruelling multisport events in the world. Running, kayaking and cycling across 243km of rugged land, through the Southern Alps.

Bailey's now on the home stretch of his remission and, every day, getting closer to being cleared of cancer.

"Three years in and two to go, and not planning on stopping anytime soon," he claimed.

He's making the most of a life doctors told him he might never have.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: