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Victoria Vesce on Overcoming a Brain Tumor and Coping with Loss

Victoria Vesce truly does do it all. On top of being a model, she’s also a full-time lawyer. You might not guess her legal aspirations were fueled by a superhero! “I’ve always been obsessed with Wonder Woman and in my head having a degree in law was the closest thing to being Wonder Woman in reality.” Balancing two careers is no easy task. “It’s a lot at times, but I am a type A personality and extremely good at managing my schedule meticulously. I think it’s important we do everything in this life that fulfills us and for me that’s pursuing everything I desire even if it seems a lot. Helping people is honestly the most rewarding part of working in the legal field.” She was riding high until a devastating diagnosis in 2017. “I was living my best life. I had the Midas touch and felt like everything in life was going my way then all of a sudden was hit with an extreme left turn being diagnosed with a rare brain and neck tumor.”

Having a brain tumor changed her outlook forever. “It was extremely hard and shook my whole world. Going through the process took a lot of mental toughness. I changed my whole perspective on how short and precious life really is.” The treatments left her fully deaf in her right ear. It was a big transition for her to acclimate to being hard of hearing. “Going from having perfect hearing for 23 years to all of a sudden half of it was gone was an intense adjustment. Now it’s been 5 years hard of hearing, so I’m getting used to it and the tinnitus in my ears, which was extremely hard at first.” The Deaf community has proven to be a source of comfort and camaraderie for Victoria. “I’ve been able to accept my newfound deafness easier knowing there are more hard of hearing younger adults out there. Even though my grandma and I used to wear the same hearing aids before she passed, I’ve learned to accept and embrace them easier. It’s funny, because you can’t see them through my thick hair. Then I show others and they are like, ‘Wow, we would’ve never known.’ I think it’s a lesson that you never know what someone’s going through on the outside looking in. In addition, I feel like Sign Language classes should be promoted more and that there should be more accessibility within the deaf community.” She now works with the National Brain Tumor Society on a regular basis. “They helped me so much during my time with my radiation treatments, and they gave me a support system through a rough time that I really had no one to connect with. That’s why I give back to them as much as I can.” Watching other patients succeed has brought her experience full circle. “It feels empowering and incredible that my willingness to participate in an experimental treatment has helped other patients at Duke overcome their battles with rare tumors. I put my life on the line and have now helped a multitude of patients since. It feels like I’ve already made my mark on the world.”

Unfortunately, life wasn’t done throwing Victoria challenging curveballs. Her mom tragically passed away in 2021, leaving an indescribable void. “My mom was my best friend and she was my everything. I’m tearing up as we speak…she was my whole world and then some. I never imagined life without her. Now I have to live it without her.” Moving forward has been a struggle, but she’s determined to make her mom proud. “It’s been extremely difficult. Some days I feel like I’m going through the motions…and some days I live harder for her. I’ve told myself I’m going to make a legacy in honor of her and live life even bigger for her.” 

 

The loss has given her clarity on all the things she took for granted and the need to be more understanding to our fellow humans. “Grief was never a subject that came up in my life really. I lost my grandparents and it was difficult, but nothing is as difficult as the love of your life being taken away from you. Now I feel more empathy for anyone who has lost a parent and anyone enduring mental health trauma. It’s difficult to even wake up some mornings and now I realize that. I wish people would have more empathy and compassion for others and their journey.” Sometimes, Victoria says, the best way to grieve death is by fully living life. “You can honor your loved one’s legacy by still living and moving. We all have a heart that’s beating, so we all have a purpose on this earth to remain here. It’s difficult and hard without our person in our life physically, but they are still in our memories and in our heart beating on. I’m so motivated to make my mom proud in Heaven that it is the driving force for me every day.” Victoria’s mom is most assuredly proud that her daughter has become a Wonder Woman of her own making.

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Victoria Vesce on Overcoming a Brain Tumor and Coping with Loss. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Victoria Vesce.

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