21 and living with ovarian cancer

Last year Jessica Best was like most young women, busy studying, working, playing sports and leading an overall active lifestyle.

After returning from an overseas holiday with friends, Jessica began to feel like something was not quite right. It was subtle to start with, so she disregarded the symptoms. Then, in May, she began experiencing severe abdominal and pelvic pain, bloating and extreme fatigue.

With her symptoms becoming more severe and frequent, Jessica was sure by mid-May there was something wrong. Following weeks of testing, her fear was confirmed in June. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“It was the scariest few weeks of my life and I soon realised I was very sick. It was a complete blur. I received the call, told my family and loved ones and essentially started treatment straight away,” she said.

Jessica has undergone countless cycles of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as steroid and hormone therapy.

“It’s really hard and takes a toll on you both mentally and physically. There are times you feel like not doing another round of treatment when your oncologist tells you it hasn’t worked, but there is no choice. The only option is to keep fighting.”

Jessica is still fighting the cancer every day, but she’s also living life with no regrets, making every moment count with her friends and loved ones and raising awareness by sharing on her social media what it’s like to be a 21-year-old with cancer.

“Having cancer has completely changed my outlook on life – it’s taught me about what’s really important, and that we should be grateful for what we have every single day,” she said.

In honour of her resilience and dedication to raising awareness, Jessica has been named the Face of Cancer Council Queensland’s 2019 Brisbane Relay For Life, to be held on October 19-20 at Clairvaux MacKillop College. She said she felt honoured to be asked to take on the role.

Cancer sucks and there’s really no nice way to talk about it, but we have to. It’s so important to talk about how we feel and how we are coping with what’s going on.

Jessica urges young women to be more aware of any health-related concerns they may have.

“I have always been extremely thankful for the fact that I found my cancer a lot sooner than most, because for some once it’s found it could be too late; That’s why raising awareness as the Face of Brisbane’s Relay For Life is so important to me. I want people to know that if they don’t feel right they need to go and see a doctor,” she said.

Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose at an early stage, largely because symptoms can be vague and similar to those of other common illnesses. Currently there are no tests effective enough for a population-based screening program for ovarian cancer, and no proven way to prevent the disease.

Celebrate. Remember. Fight back.

Will you join Jessica in raising awareness and fighting back against cancer? You can register for your local Relay For Life event now!

Relay For Life is a fun and moving overnight experience that raises vital funds for Cancer Council’s research, prevention and support services.

To register a team, volunteer, or find out more, click here or call Cancer Council Queensland’s friendly fundraising team on 1300 65 65 85.