On the eve of her 21st birthday, Jessica Olson defied doctors’ orders and terrible odds in a desperate bid to beat her third bout of cancer.
In what is an unprecedented endorsement for a controversial drug, the young journalism student turned to cannabis oil when the crippling tumour returned to her neck in 2016.
Doctors told Jess she would require a debilitating surgery to remove the lump after successfully, albeit temporarily, overcoming stage II Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma twice before.
Without the surgery she was given just months to live, with the surgery she was given a ten per cent chance of survival accompanied by a severely reduced standard of life.
“I decided I didn’t want to have it... living like that, it wasn’t for me,” Jess told 7 News Online.
“I didn’t want to be sitting at home being high or sick, I said I’d rather go out fighting and enjoy my time.”
On more than one occasion, doctors reminded the Menai local just how slim her chances were without the extreme operation.
“My doctor told me to go home, write a bucket list and plan how I wanted to be remembered because I had months to live at best,” the talented dancer added.
“Without the surgery, they gave me a couple of months, they said the tumor would grow out of my neck and into my mouth, basically I would die from suffocation.
Jess was just 15 years old, when a lump in her neck threw her carefree life as a high school student into disarray.
In 2011 the blonde-haired beauty required eight grueling rounds of chemotherapy to rid her body of the crippling disease.
By December of the same year, she was given the incredible news that she was in the clear, but had to remain cancer-free for five years before she could be declared “cured”.
It was at the four-year mark when she felt another lump, this time under her jaw, which she says was a result of the radiation treatment.
In May 2016, Jess endured an operation to remove the gland, some tissues and 30 lymph nodes from her jaw.
— Jessica Olson (@jessicaleaolson) May 5, 2016
With the chances quite high, she and her family were celebrating a second cancer defeat before Jess was dealt yet another blow - the radiation had been ineffective and the lump was back.
With the assistance of a GoFundMe page that raised more than $50,000, the Wollongong University student turned to an illegal and expensive alternative – cannabis oil.
The highly concentrated marijuana product was injected into her body three times a day, for thirteen consecutive weeks, costing a staggering $1,200 for just eight days worth of product.
Much like the chemotherapy, it left her bed-ridden and extremely sick on more than one occasion.
“I ended up throwing up so much that I developed pancreatitis,” the battler told 7 News Online.
Refusing to accept that her days were numbered, strength started to return to Jess’ emaciated body, prompting a visit to the doctor to see if there was any truth to her suspicions.
“About three months after I started using it (cannabis oil) I went to the doctor to see if it had gotten any smaller,” she said.
“We got the results back and it was gone.
“I was sitting in her (doctor’s) office when the CAT scan came up on the computer and she was just in shock, she thought it was a mistake.
“She rang the CAT scan people who confirmed there was no cancerous activity in my neck.
“Mum was with me and she was just crying, pretty much everyone was just crying.”
Dubbed a “miracle” by her doctors, Jess said she doubts she would have made it to Christmas without the banned substance.
Her endorsement to the contentious remedy follows a growing list of epilepsy patients who found their seizures all but disappeared as a result of the highly concentrated oil.
As for now, Jess plans to continue her strict vegan diet to rid her body of any unnecessary acidities and chemicals in a bid to regain full strength and return to the normal life of a University student.