An update

So, some time has passed since my first blog post and the crazy whirlwind that it is to be re-diagnosed. I’ve had a lot of time to think, a lot more opinions voiced from close friends and family and things have changed quite a lot. As I mentioned previously I had a PET scan to check if there was any more active cancer and unfortunately the left side of my neck lit up. For those who have seen The Fault in Our Stars you may remember Augustus talking about his PET scan when he found out he had relapsed:“He flashed his crooked smile, then said, ‘I lit up like a christmas tree, Hazel Grace.”

Fortunately, I didn’t light up like a Christmas tree – or maybe one on a budget with only two lights – but nonetheless potential cancer was detected, the survival rate went down and surgery is now no longer an option.
In the time between finding out this news, dealing with it and thinking about the next step I had the ‘palliative care’ talk with my doctor, nurses and radiologist. They discussed with me the brutal side affects that come with a growing tumour, especially in the area mine is, and the things we would need to put in place to care for me when that time comes such as hospital staff coming to my house to administer pain relief. Facing the idea of death is something I’ve found most difficult lately. Prior to all this news, at twenty years old I felt like I was an adult, I’d had many experiences, gone through my schooling and begun University education. I had surrounded myself with friends and weeded out those who were not, I was working in a stable job, supporting myself, whilst still living at home and planning for the future. If you’d asked me back then what I’d achieved I’d have a long list to rattle off to you. But once a cancer diagnosis comes about it’s almost as if I’m back as a toddler, feeling too young to be going anywhere and too inexperienced to have future chances and experiences taken away from me. It’s hard not to contemplate all the things I’d be missing out on; simple, mundane tasks such as working a full time job and getting my first apartment were things I’d never considered that I’d miss until they were taken away from me. I couldn’t help mourning things I never got to have such as live my twenties, thirties, fourties, etc and then grow old, get married, have children, have grandchildren, make something of myself and be someone people are proud of. I felt like I was leaving nothing behind; a life half lived (if not only one eighth lived), a room full of clothes, a second hand car, and a half finished journalism degree.
The hospital staff told me how to access my superannuation, linked me up with a counsellor, told me to write a bucket list, think about my will and plan my funeral. As you would assume, these are hard and confusing tasks many terminal young people are not familiar with, or ever faced with; so they gave me a booklet (almost like a comprehension booklet you fill out in primary school) that covered all the bases. It had questions and answers such as: “How do I want to be remembered on my birthday?” “Do I want to be revived?” “Do I want to try life support if deemed applicable?” “What song do I want to play at my funeral?” “What outfit would I like to be buried in?” This was super confronting for me and I decided not to fill it out at all. Yes, these were important questions that needed answering, but I’m not quite ready to go there just yet. I’m not going home to die or ‘live it up for the last few months’ as suggested. I’ve begun alternate medicine: Chinese Herbal Medicine, to be specific.
Whilst initially I laughed at the idea of alternate medicine I’ve begun to embrace a different and more open mind frame where I understand the science behind the immune boosting practise. This isn’t something that came about lightly: I have always been pro western medicine. Every headache I took panadol, every cold I got anti biotics, I’ve had 8 rounds of chemotherapy, 40 doses of radiotherapy and countless surgeries along with IVF hormone treatment. I’ve had a needle in every vein to draw blood, a cannula or injection in every other. I do believe chemotherapy and radiotherapy saved me from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, unfortunately it was just probably the cause for my secondary cancer – of which I knew was a risk the whole time, but you have to do what you’ve gotta do at the time. Of course I needed evidence before agreeing to this Chinese Herbal Medicice, I googled and googled for days on end, reading studies that either endorsed it with Western medicine as a way to lessen symptoms such as nausea or hair loss or articles that agreed it prolonged life for those who were terminal. There was no hard evidence that it offered a cure, or was the future of cancer. I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to the ‘Big Pharma‘ conspiracy – of course you hope that a cancer cure doesn’t exist, that the public is being looked after and not having things hidden from them – but who really knows. CancerΒ is a 124.6 Billion dollar industry, if there is a cure out there being hidden from the public these companies are making a killing, by literally killing (or allowing those terminal to die.)
Of course, there is no hard evidence of this conspiracy, same goes for the 9/11 conspiracy and the ‘Katy Perry is actually Jon Benet Ramsay’ (some are clearly more ridiculous than others.) Something that did convince me a little was the fact that the more people I told about my decision to do Chinese Medicine, the more stories came forward of friends and family members who were cured and recovered via the TCM method. Two of which I know of that went to the same lady I go to, and are now recovering and still living when given months to live. Each case of cancer is different and each body responds differently, so this is still a gamble, but a few success stories were better than none and when it comes down to it I have two choices:
1: Try alternate medicine
2. Die
Which one would you pick?
I’ve been on the medicine a week now and initially I was tired and not feeling the best. I take 15 capsules, three powdered sachets and 2 liquid shots a day – it seems like a lot but when you plan your day and schedule the medicine in, it’s really quite easy to assimilate into normal life. Well, as normal as you can get whilst eating 100% organic. Combined with the organic eating I am living chemical free which means no hair dye and no makeup (a big sacrifice for me!) but no sacrifice is too big when it comes to saving your life.
It is too soon to tell whether I have made any progress, I am an impatient person so this is really testing my coping skills. I go back to see her in one month and she will assess me and adjust the medication accordingly. I am feeling positive that I am doing the right thing and have chosen the right path. Initially I was concerned – was I wasting time doing alternate medicine? Should I be ‘living it up’ not wasting time doing medicine, being tired and sick for my last few days? But I have decided that no matter whether this works, or not, the most important thing in the world is that I tried, and never gave up, surrendering to death.
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23 Comments Add yours

  1. Graeme Kethel says:

    Hey Jess
    Not sure if you remember me from your work experience at Ten. I was the one growling in the office. The mate of your dad’s.
    I’m not at Ten any more but I have made the guys there aware of your situation. They all remember you clearly (funny about that!) and are behind you.
    If anyone can beat this bloody demon, you can!
    You need to finish your degree and enjoy life. Too much to do!
    Stick to your plan and take every bit of support that’s offered to you.
    There are a hell of a lot of people that you’re not aware of that are in your corner.
    Hang in there and beat this insidious disease. You’ll do it!
    Best wishes
    Graeme

    Like

    1. lyn franklin says:

      I am lost for words. You are beautiful, strong, inspiring and you try whatever gives you a chance. Xxxxxxx

      Like

  2. Sandra Sully says:

    Hi Jess
    Just wanting to also reach out and wish you all the very best.
    We all remember you from your time at Ten and are hoping you know that you are in our thoughts.
    I love hearing how positive you seem to be throughout all your difficulties.
    Stay strong beautiful girl and loads of love
    Sandra.
    xx

    Like

  3. Kylie nasr says:

    Darling Jess you write beautifully and when your treatment is done and dusted and you are back at uni you are going to make a wonderful journalist. Looking forward to seeing you natural hair colour it will be beautiful. Your strength is amazing and you should be really proud of yourself . Sending you lots of love xxxxxx

    Like

  4. Murray says:

    Terrible news. I have no words. 😦

    Just so very proud of your attitude and fight cuz.

    x
    luvmuzz

    Like

  5. Anne Josephine Emery says:

    You are the bravest person I know .You also write beautifully.

    Like

  6. Kate says:

    We had a class together a year or so ago at uni. I would never have imagined with your beautiful bubbly personality you had such a tough life to live. I’m very proud of you and every decision your making you own. Keep at it girl. Xx

    Like

  7. Harry says:

    I have just finished reading this and I am sitting here, in my dark lounge room, weeping quite openly. You think as a 44yr old Australian male that you have seen it and heard it all. Then you read something like this that just reduces you to tears. May God bless you Jessica Olson

    Like

  8. lizzybax says:

    I am absolutely mind blown Jess! I’m deeply upset for you. I still can’t believe this is all happening to you. I was so excited to have to do another MARK subject with you! You are so beautiful, intelligent and so fun! However you are also strong and I wish you nothing but the best in this next step of your journey. Thinking of you!

    Liz Baxa

    xxx

    Like

  9. Debbie says:

    I don’t know you Jess, but after reading this, I just wanted to congratulate you on your courage and determination. Keep fighting ! You seem to be one hell of a lady. All the very best.

    Like

  10. Susan says:

    Hi Jess,
    I seen this the other day and how it worked so thought its worth putting it past you- http://www.burzynskiclinic.com/

    I wish you the best of luck with everything and really hope you pull throught it! Xoxo

    Like

  11. Brett "JB" Adams says:

    Jess I knew you before you were born and I can still remember when your mum was waddling around . Fight the fight girl, you are in my thoughts & prayers as is your mum, sister and family. XX

    Like

  12. Lee Young says:

    God bless you Jessica you my dear have made more of yourself than many do three times your age and never question the pride you bring,
    you are amazing and I’m so proud to know you. Your never give up attitude is truly inspirational and I believe in you and what you are doing. My thoughts, love and prayers are with you and your family always. xxx

    Like

  13. Violet. says:

    I didn’t even know what you are going throw !! Love you Jess!! Stay strong ❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️ I believe you can win this battle as you always do πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ’‹πŸ’‹πŸ’‹πŸ’‹πŸ’‹

    Like

  14. AEO says:

    You have words for those who do not – maaaaaan can you write!
    Loving the thought process around how you make your decisions and cheering for you right now! Aunt EO

    Like

  15. Rhonda says:

    Hi Jess, I am a school friend of your Aunty and also a physie girl. You are an inspiration to all. My positive well wishes are being sent your way. Kick it’s ass beautiful xx

    Like

  16. Greg Williams says:

    You are Amazing Jess For someone so young to go through what you are going through you are an Insperation to others not to give up. We are all with you and in our prayers. In our hearts. And in our thoughts every day. We love you and hold you close to our hearts. Again Jess You Are Amazing πŸ‘

    Like

  17. Beautiful Jess. We are sending you our biggest love and tightest hugs. Always showing grace and gratitude in the face of unimaginable adversity. You are a phenomenal woman. In our thoughts and prayers every day gorgeous girl. Love the Sony Foundation team xx

    Like

  18. Jess,
    I’ve just read your latest update and am lost for words…I am thinking of you and, like you, feel positive and hopeful about your organic/alternate medicine journey…
    Keep trying, stay positive, and look it straight in the eye…

    love and hugs
    Chris Bernasconi

    Like

  19. Sophie Roditis says:

    Jess you have empowered yourself with knowledge and strength. You are amazing and an inspiration. xx

    Like

  20. A says:

    You’re such an inspiration and warrior it amazes me how strong someone can be!! Never give up i know you can beat this Jess you’re in my thoughts and prayers to over come this. Xx

    Like

  21. Kathy Wong says:

    Hi Jess I hope this works for you. I lost my daughter at the age of 13 to cancer she too had to make the decisions about what she wanted at her funeral this was her choice though she also requested I do things in her memory which we still do after 19 yrs. I miss my daughter everyday but I am the strong person today with her right by my side and appreciate life because of her. My thoughts are with you and your family. I wish you success in this alternative treatment. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜˜

    Like

  22. Deb says:

    Just read your blog. You have been through so much and yet remain positive. Good luck with everything. Hope to read the treatment has been successful and you are following your dreams.

    Like

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