A talented Perth college student whose dream job at Disney World turned into a nightmare when she mysteriously began to go blind and deaf has revealed how the sudden change in health led to a shock cancer diagnosis.
Jess Selwood, now 23, spent the summer working in “the happiest place in the world” in Orlando, Florida in 2018 after taking a break from her Masters in Tax Law.
In October of the same year, she suddenly began to lose her hearing, her eyesight, and began to vomit frequently while working in the world famous theme park.
Ms Selwood tried to elicit answers in the United States, but was put off by potentially huge medical bills and concerns that she might have acted “dramatically”.
In January of the following year, she returned to Perth, Western Australia, and had an MRI the day after arriving home.
Ms Selwood has learned the devastating news that she may have an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma.
Jess Selwood, now 23, decided to take a break from her Masters in Tax Law and spend the summer working in “the happiest place in the world” in Orlando, Florida in August 2018
Ms Selwood was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma in January 2019
She was immediately sent for surgery on the tumor – which was the size of her fist – but doctors drained her instead with a shunt.
Tests were done to determine if it was cancer and two weeks later Ms Selwood’s life changed in an instant.
“I was in a dream state. Everything between surgery and diagnosis is a bit hazy, ”Ms Selwood told Daily Mail Australia.
“I don’t think I fully understood how bad it was – and I was probably on a bunch of painkillers as well.”
Ms Selwood said the wait to know his fate from the surgeon while he removed his staples from the procedure was agonizing.
“It was a strange thing to have to do this while being so anxious. Then he told us the diagnosis, ”she said.
“My parents, my partner and I all burst into tears.”
Ms Selwood discovered that the lump was above her central nervous system, making surgery impossible due to the risk of damage.
She immediately began low-intensity radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
“I was never strictly told it was terminally ill – but it is, for insurance purposes,” she said.
“But they didn’t want to give me that strict diagnosis because they didn’t want me to feel like I had a time limit or giving up.
Ms Selwood was working as a lifeguard at Disney World when she began to lose her hearing, her eyesight and was constantly vomiting
Ms Selwood was taking a break from her Masters of Tax Law studies (pictured upon graduation)
“I say I have terminal cancer and I use that as a motivation to keep going, but I don’t let it hold me back or deter me.”
The 23-year-old is incredibly excited about Christmas, her favorite time of year.
“It has always been a very special time for us to grow up. My brother and I always got up early and rushed to our sister’s room, ”she said.
“We would stand and try to grab Santa Claus, we would run over to grab our stockings and open them in our bedrooms.”
Days were spent splashing around in the pool, enjoying a delicious barbecue with the family and traveling abroad.
Ms Selwood found the lump was sitting on her central nervous system – making surgery impossible due to the risk of damage
This included Disney World, where she would work several years later.
She said Christmas is different now that she’s an adult, sharing time with loved ones and her boyfriend’s family.
“It’s always so merry – and Christmas in the summer – it’s always a good time,” she said.
“It’s just filled with so much love.”
Ms Selwood said having a terminal illness in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic made this year even more difficult.
She knew that her immune system would not be able to fight off the virus if she were infected.
The 23-year-old (pictured with her boyfriend and family) is incredibly excited about Christmas – her favorite time of year
Ms Selwood (pictured with her parents) said there were so many people who had to go through this on their own, but she is incredibly grateful to have her family and partner
Ms Selwood said she was incredibly grateful to have her family and partner.
She also praised the young adult cancer organization CanTeen and its new SPACE program, which is why she devotes so much time to volunteering for the group.
“It’s a way for me to take control of my cancer and make a difference in the world before this thing takes hold of me,” she said.
The coronavirus meant the organization had to go online, meaning people from all over the country could meet.
Thus was born SPACE, a program run by clinicians who help people adjust to their diagnosis.
Sandy Cham, Managing Director of Services at CanTeen, said, “What’s wonderful about SPACE is the immediate feeling of connection between the young people involved as they reflect on the impact cancer has on them physically, socially and. emotionally.
“SPACE really supports these young people as they explore their values and strengths while learning new coping skills and techniques.
“At the end of the program, everyone felt a very real sense of shared understanding that although cancer is now part of their life story, it will not define who they are or what they are capable of.”
More information about CanTeen can be found here.
WHAT IS JESS’S CANCER?
Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of brain tumor that grows incredibly quickly inside the patient.
About 12 to 15 percent of brain cancer patients have this type of tumor.
The median survival rate for this type of cancer is 12 to 15 months.
Symptoms may include headache, drowsiness, weakness, memory loss, speech problems, blurred vision, attacks of loss of appetite.
Treatment includes surgery – which is not possible in Jess’s case due to the location of the tumor – or radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Source: Health Line