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Cancer-Stricken Student Gives Most Inspiring Graduation Speech You'll Ever Hear
byEricka SouterNov 10, 2015
It is surely every parent's worst nightmare. Your seemingly
healthy child diagnosed with a deadly disease, devastating his hopes and
dreams. That is real life nightmare of Jake Bailey and his family. A week
before he was due to give a graduation speech from Christchurch Boy's High
School in New Zealand, the teen was told he had the rare Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma, known to be the fastest growing human tumor, and that he may not have
long to live. In fact, they didn't think he would be able to attend the
But Jake, the picture of bravery, surprised his classmates
and teachers by leaving the hospital to deliver what is perhaps
the most profound graduation speech in history. "I wrote a speech. And then, a week before I was due to
deliver that speech tonight, they said, 'You've got cancer,'" he began. "They
said, 'If you don't get any treatment within the next three weeks you're going
to die.'" He spoke of all the school had given him—a wonderful education and
true lessons on what it meant to be a good human being. Though, he brought
tears to the eyes of many when he talked about the precious nature of life.
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 … I wrote this before I knew I had cancer and now I have a whole new spin
on it. Moral strength is about making a conscious decision to be a person who
doesn't give up when it would be easy to. To be lesser because the journey is
He went on to dare his peers, "Forget about long-term
dreams—let's be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals." Not
surprisingly, his words were met with thunderous applause. According to reports,
Jake is now undergoing intensive chemotherapy to fight the disease.
This may have been a speech directed at teenagers, but this
holds a valuable lessons for adults as well. As Jake's story attests, tomorrow
is never promised. May we all be inspired to live life a bit more joyously and
be grateful for every moment we have with those we love.