Jess Van Zeil
Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a 26 year old, Melbourne based business owner, internationally published author, motivational speaker, stage 4 cancer thriver and lover of life.
In January 2015 I was 21 and at the prime of my life when I was diagnosed with a rare cancer, Conjunctival Ocular Melanoma. At the time I was terrified, in my mind cancer was a death sentence. But as the weeks turned into months and I was under surveillance with nothing changing, my guard went down and I started to relax. However in September 2015 everything changed, the cancer returned aggressively and soon I was being told that if I wanted to be here in 5 years I had one option, have my left eye and eyelids removed and close over the eye socket for good.
I was terrified of looking different and standing out, but what scared me more was losing my life, and I don’t mean just by physically dying but letting this diagnosis rule the way I lived my life. So at that point I decided to embrace my new life and make the most of it with colourful eye patches as my new, fun, unique fashion accessory.
Unfortunately 11 months later in September 2016 I had a seizure and was diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma on the brain, my prognosis was 6-16 weeks. I had to undergo brain surgery, relearn how to walk and get onto a treatment that was not yet available publicly so it cost us over $100k.
Thankfully I have been stable for over 3 years now!
Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it
Oh I love what I do! I am a resilience expert, I have created the PATCH method for building resilience, which is the foundation of all my avenues of work.
Positive. Adventure. Thankful. Create. Honour.
In my book Eye Won I share my journey in great depth, as well as the skills and tools I used along the way to maintain my powerfully positive and ridiculously resilient attitude. As a coach I work 1-on-1 with my clients who have faced challenges and adversity to help them not just survive the situation but actually thrive on the other side. I speak on stages across Australia to empower my audience with the skills to bounce back from the inevitable challenges they will face in their lives, whether it be at school, work, with their health or any other areas of their lives.
As for why I took this path it’s because I believe that resilience is a tool we all need in this fast paced, ever changing world we live in. I had to learn this on the fly, while I was facing my own challenges. I didn’t want anyone else to face the challenges in their journey unarmed and that was why I started speaking, coaching and writing.
Q3) What makes you feel courageous?
Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I love pushing myself to grow and rise to the challenges I set for myself. I love the feeling of being scared by my goals, fear is just my mind and bodies way of saying this goal actually matters to me. I use the mantra “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Because there is nothing more courageous than stepping into fear rather than running away.
Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?
I love this question! Jess my darling, stop trying to fit in, you are beautiful inside and out, you are unique and you are allowed to live by your own values. You are here for your own special purpose on this earth so stop focusing on what the others are doing and start focusing on becoming the best version of yourself.
Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?
My advice is to embrace a fearless attitude. I wrote this in a post a few months ago to explain what being fearless truly means to me.
“Fearlessness is not a lack of fear, if it was I wouldn’t need courage.
Fearlessness is not carelessness, if I was I wouldn’t be so passionate about life.
Fearlessness is not emotionless, if it was I’d feel detached from my life, from myself.
Fearlessness is knowing something scares me and doing it anyway.
Fearlessness is taking a chance on myself even when the odds are stacked against me.
Fearlessness is being vulnerable, it’s allowing love in knowing it could hurt me.
Everyday I choose to be fearless, to run at what scares me and embrace it because I know that’s where I am going to grow either by succeeding or by learning a lesson to carry with me next time"