At first glance, Jessica Olson appears to be your average 20-year-old girl, studying at university, working a part-time job and spending her free time with her boyfriend.
But the blonde beauty from Menai in Sydney’s south is also fighting a tough battle against cancer – her third one in the past five years.
In 2011, Jessica had just started year 10 at Menai High School when she found a lump in her neck.
She was diagnosed with Stage II Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, losing her long blonde hair in the process.
“At 15 I was very confused and devastated at being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma,” she told Yahoo7. “I always thought cancer was something that happened to old people or people who smoked all of their lives, not a young, healthy and fit person.”
In December of the same year, Jessica 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.
A misdiagnosis left the lump untouched for five months, until a second opinion and a biopsy revealed the devastating news that Jessica now had Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma - cancer of the saliva gland.
Jessica’s dad, Chris, said the family rallied around her after her second diagnosis.
“When she found the lump she was obviously quite worried. When she had the biopsy and it came back cancerous everyone went into shock mode. And then it was full steam ahead,” he told Yahoo7.
In May this year, Jessica endured the operation to remove the gland, some tissues and 30 lymph nodes from her jaw – but she still needed more treatment.
She underwent 30 radiation treatments, where she was told there was an 80 per cent chance of getting rid of the cancer.
With the chances quite high, Jessica and her family were celebrating her second cancer defeat.
But only three weeks after her treatment she was dealt yet another blow - the radiation had been ineffective and the lump was back.
“The radiologist couldn’t understand why the radiation didn’t work,” Mr Olson said.
Jessica was given one option by her doctors - a surgery so invasive her jaw would have to be broken to remove the cancer, surrounding tissue and even the nerves controlling her lips and tongue.
A skin graft would have be taken from her thigh to reconstruct her jaw, and the surgery would risk permanent disfigurement of her face with the possibility of her needing breathing and feeding tubes for long-term use.
Even if Jessica were to undergo the surgery, she would still only have a 30 per cent survival rate.
Given those facts, she made the difficult decision to decline the operation.
“If I'm going to go down after this I want to go down as me and enjoy my last days,” she said.
With the support of her family, Jessica is instead opting for alternative treatment methods.
“She’s determined to fight it through her immune system and build that up with diet,” Mr Olson said.
Jessica is now trying Chinese herbal medicine and has changed up her diet to include only organic products.
“It’s quite restrictive,” Mr Olson said, explaining that she even has to steer clear of make-up and hair dye.
And it is expensive, costing up to $4000 per month.
It’s this cost that prompted Jessica’s aunty, Darlean Fullerton, to start a GoFundMe page for her niece.
With an initial goal of $20,000, Ms Fullerton asked contributors to help fund Jessica’s search for a cure.
Within 24 hours, $13,000 had already been raised and after two weeks, the target had more than doubled to an incredible $44,000.
“The fact that people took money out of their own pay check for me really warmed my heart, especially strangers who don't even know me,” Jessica said.
“These people all banded together to give me a fighting chance at killing this cancer for the third and final time and that's a gift I'll never be able to stop being grateful for.”
All of the money will go towards her treatment, as Jessica has no plan to start a bucket list anytime soon.
"For me personally, doing that means I've given up. Planning my funeral or going on a final trip means I'm saying goodbye and I'm not doing that just yet," she said.
Mr Olson said Jessica is due back at the oncologist every few months to undergo scans to check if any progress is being made.
He said he is willing to try any alternative methods to help his daughter.
“It’s more to prolong her life at this stage. We don’t know what technology will be available in 12 months time. It’s just a waiting game really to see if it does work or not,” he said.
“She’s a fighter.”
To help Jessica find a cure, visit her GoFundMe page.