“I’d had this red spot on the whites of my eye for as long as I can remember, and it was never an issue. And then all of a sudden, it was like, that was potentially cancerous,” says Jess Van Zeil, who was recognized with conjunctival ocular melanoma at 21. She was initially misdiagnosed, and by the point she lastly acquired an correct prognosis she was informed she would want the contents of her left eye socket absolutely eliminated.
“I was very self-conscious, very self-aware of who I was, and how society is and how judgmental society can be,” says Van Zeil. “So I wasn’t too keen on it. And then the other side of it was, [either do that] or I won’t be here in five years.”
Only a few months after the elimination of her eye, she out of the blue had a seizure. She was now recognized with stage IV melanoma — the most cancers had unfold to her mind. Van Zeil started remedy however “nearly died from the side effects.” Fortunately, the remedy was efficient. Throughout the expertise, from being misdiagnosed to not too long ago celebrating 5 years cancer-free, Van Zeil has had to be her personal advocate for her well being.
“I’ve had to learn that my best interests are something that I am allowed to put forward,” she says. “And just because maybe I’m not medically trained does not mean that my thoughts and opinions aren’t valid.”
After finishing her diploma in diet throughout that journey, Van Zeil has since redirected her need to assist others towards public talking, teaching, and writing. “I think probably after I lost my eye, I realized how much of a lonely experience it can be to go through cancer or anything that’s really challenging and changes the way that you perceive the world and perceive yourself,” says Van Zeil. “I didn’t want anyone else to feel alone, going through what they were going through.”