An Australian woman’s plans to celebrate her first wedding anniversary were derailed when she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.
Jessica Vainieri was busy working as a teacher’s aide when the “fit, young, healthy, dancer” began experiencing severe and debilitating chest pains.
The 27-year-old was taken to hospital after a blood-clot was found on her brain. Things worsened. The next day. doctors gave her the news that they had also found a tumour in her chest. The Melbourne, Australia resident was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer: Primary Systemic Non-Hodgkin’s Mediastinal Sternum Lymphoma.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Vainieri recalled receiving the devastating news.
“I would love to go back in time and relive it all again, we had not a worry in the world and we didn’t know what was to come,” Vainieri said. “But we are strong, we are fighting this thing together, through sickness and health.”
Within three weeks, the tumour had begun to grow rapidly. Vainieri explained, “If we hadn’t caught it when we did it could have been much worse, or I could have had a stroke from the blood clot.”
Before her diagnosis, Vainieri went to her doctor and underwent a series of tests that failed to detect the tumour. The avid dancer says she had to push for answers as she “could barely walk a block without being exhausted.”
“For ages I hadn’t felt like myself. Normally I was bubbly, energetic, I was teaching dancing, I was a teacher’s aide and I was in a band singing. I was a busy active person,” she explained. “Suddenly the energy wasn’t there and my mind wasn’t there. I had some aches and pains which turned into chest pain, which then led to a swollen neck.”
Vainieri knew the pain was serious, but she had no idea it was the beginning of such an emotional ordeal, including aggressive chemotherapy weekly for six months.
“I do try to keep as active as possible, but I’m listening to my body as much as I can,” Vainieri said. “My mom has been a massive support, she’s been helping me and my family and has come to stay with us to help out and meal prep.”
Vainieri’s husband, Adam is credited as being “her rock.” The two have been together for 12 years and were married in 2016.
“We didn’t go to the same school but we had mutual high school friends. I can’t believe it’s been that long, I can’t imagine my life without him,” she said.
The young couple’s hopes for a family has been interrupted by her health troubles.
“We have to wait at least a year. At one point I had to decide which treatment to use to preserve my eggs but now I’m corresponding with another hospital so we can monitor my eggs to make sure everything’s functioning right,” Vainieri reveals. “This way we can try and use my eggs and so we can make it happen a little bit quicker but we have to wait a couple of months to see what happens.”
Vainieri has to wait to see if the tumour has shrunk but says she is trying to remain positive.
“I’ve surprised myself a little bit, at the start I expected to have a mental breakdown but when the doctors told me the news I said, ‘Let’s not get down about it and do what we have to’,” she told the Daily Mail. “I’m just trying to be a bit more of a positive person and not get myself down about it, so I read positive quotes and am taking more time for myself. All of the mindfulness stuff does work.”
Vainieri’s sister surprised her after a GoFundMe account secretly set up to help assist in medical costs reached it’s $5,000 AUS goal.
“I was completely taken my surprise, it was the last thing I was expecting anyone to do because I wasn’t expecting anything from anyone,” Vainieri said. “To see so many people contributing and to see that it resonated with so many people was beautiful. There was a lot of people I didn’t even know, which was even more overwhelming. It was heartwarming to know that strangers wanted to help me.”