Pouring his heart into kapa haka
Tom Adams is a positive young man with a determination to live.
A male leader in the Nga Manu Kura Maori group, the 17-year-old helped inspire his team to a win at last week's Flava festival in Timaru.
The Timaru Girls' High School and Timaru Boys' High School combined group took out the senior title with an impressive kapa haka performance.
A prefect at Boys' High, Adams was diagnosed with leukemia when he was five months old and spent the next five months in Christchurch Hospital.
Doctors gave him a 10 per cent survival chance.
"My parents were told I had a 40 per cent survival rate, but after my first treatment that dropped to 10 per cent because I was so young and sick."
Adams was treated with a trial drug. "Because it was a trial drug they didn't know what was going to happen or what the consequences would be."
Adams said a side-effect of the drug has resulted in him developing scar tissue around his heart.
"The technical term is chemo-induced cardiac myotherapy ... basically my heart has to work harder than most other people's."
That hasn't stopped him from remaining active. He plays rugby and works as a relief milker.
Next year he will attend Otago University to study computer science.
Adams said he has enjoyed being a part of the kapa haka group and embracing the "family-like" Maori culture.
"The night before our performance we all stayed together at the Girls' High hostel."
That night the group was told about Adams' fight for survival.
"The room was quiet for a moment then a few people teared up ... but by the next day everybody was pumped up. I think it ended up being a bit of a boost for everyone."
Adams said winning was "very emotional".
"It went really well. Everyone was really happy afterwards. I welled up a bit."
He still has regular check-ups at Christchurch Hospital but said it's life as normal.
"In some ways it's scary, but the only time I think about it is when I am having tests at the hospital. I try to do the best I can and just keep going."
The Timaru Herald