The personal strength Jess possesses can be seen through the phrase she boldly utilized in her stage of remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which proudly stated:
I had you, but you’ll never have me!
It is said that the “real you” is on the inside, and inside the life of Journalism student Jessica Olson is a story that deserves to be told. Initially Jess may seem like yet another first year University student struggling with the costs and workload of student life, however her story is one of perseverance under exceptional circumstances yet recovering to be better through the trials.
Seen by Jess as “a way to express myself”, dancing and physical culture have been key activities by which Jess has matured physically, mentally, and developed ongoing friendships with fellow participants at such a high level of competition. Rising to the level of National Championships for ‘Physie’, the standard of competition bonds the competitors through the collective hours of practise and mutual injury struggles, adding to the fact that “most of the girls I compete with I’ve done so against since we were toddlers”. This ongoing competition pushes these athletes to improve yearly, and Jess confesses to enjoying the competitiveness present in each event.
Additionally, the basic health benefits have aided Jess’ continuing participation as they enabled a swift recovery – having been diagnosed with blood cancer at 15 – into resuming competition. The drive to overcome this massive personal hurdle was obvious, as Jess was upset about not being able to participate in her first senior Physie Nationals at the Opera House. A year later – having recovered from the cancer itself, depleted muscles, lessened flexibility, numerous shin splints, torn and strained hamstrings, and both cardiovascular and general fatigue – Jess was able to rejoin her lifelong friends in their mutual passion. The “hardwork & dedication to reach the national level again” is easily noted in her application to her studies, and the ability for her to encourage others in their work is a great reflection on how humble and yet positive Jess can be in the wake of such a harsh battle with cancer. The infectious laughter she brings isn’t one normally associated with a cancer survivor, however this is testament to her upbeat personality.
As not only an activity which connects Jess to her Physie peers and their parents – seen as an extended family considering their continual presence – but an escape from University life and the struggles of battling such serious illness, Jess excitedly spoke of how she wishes to follow the trend of people well into retirement still participating in Physie. As her studies at Wollongong continue, Jess hopes to establish where her calling in Journalism lies, and the diversity her International Studies subjects offer her will allow her to take this calling overseas should that be where she chases it. In the meantime, her passion for dancing supersedes the desire for employment abroad, and so the inspirational story of Jess’s can be shared to those alongside her at University.