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Jess Wilson: "I Had Brain Surgery!"

Model Jessica Wilson bounces back from her grueling experience—and inspires us to face fear head on.
as told to Angel Constantino * photo by Patrick Martires

One night, when I was in my second year of high school, my mom just felt the need to go to my room while I was sleeping. She couldn't wake me up even after pushing a budging me. A few days later, I had a seizure in the middle of the night. My family tried to help but they couldn't do anything except wait for me to wake up.

I found out I had a brain tumor that had to be removed immediately. I had to completely shave my head for the operation. My sister, mom, and cousin went with me to the barber, and all of us broke down in tears when it was done.

I was in the hospital for a week. Days before the surgery, I went through a lot of tests, had around 50 injections, talked to doctors, and prepared myself. My family was with me the whole way. They would come into my room all teary-eyed but holding it back so I wouldn't see them crying. I'd get cards and gifts from my friends in school, and even my teachers came to check on me. It made me feel so much better knowing everyone cared.

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I remember waking up very early on the day of the surgery and being brought to another building in a wheelchair. I went into a room where I had to have screwdriver-like things drilled into my head to secure this huge, 20-pound metal helmet that would help the doctor locate exactly where my tumor was. I cried from the pain and wanted to yank it off. After that, I was brought to the operating room. I said goodbye to my family at the door.

I was sleep during the entire operation. Next thing I knew, I was all alone in a dark, cold room with tubes connected to every part of my body, huge bandages on my head, and painkillers going through my veins. I panicked because I was stranded in the bed and didn't know what was going on. I had no choice but to wait until a nurse and my mom came into the room. It was finally over.

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I stayed in the hospital for a few days after the surgery to recover. I couldn't do much but sleep. Just getting up would make me dizzy, and I needed help doing everything. I couldn't walk and I couldn't move my left arm, hand, and leg. Since the tumor was on the right side of my brain, it affected my left limbs.

After leaving the hospital, I was on medication for a couple of months and had to go through therapy for my left limbs. On my 15th birthday, about a week after I left the hospital, my friends threw me a surprise party at home. It was so sweet!

Looking back, I can say that definitely learned a lot from the experience. Life is short and it can be taken away any second. Make the most out of the time you have now. Don't take things for granted—like grudges against people or truly hate someone because it's waste of time. I let things go easily because I'd rather not dwell on the past.

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My advice for girls with problems like this is to face them head on. It's scary in the conquer your fears than to be strong. Remember that there's a solution to everything and never give up!

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"Today, I Won"

I always caught feelings for someone, and hoped so much that one day there could a thing between the two of us. I'm usually the one that makes the effort to buy and/or make cute gifts, chats them every other day, and stays up all night with him.

When I was 16, my childhood crush suddenly came back into my life. We'd constantly send updates to each other, recommend favorite songs and talk even the most random things. He'd even text me as early as 6 to just greet me good morning almost everyday. I hoped so much that when I confessed, he suddenly stopped talking to me.

For short, he ghosted me. Those 6 months I spent talking to him, allotting my time for him, and staying up until 3 am for him - all gone in a simple confession. Although I had a few crushes before him, he's the only one that got me in real pain. It was the kind of pain that I never thought I'd experience. It was the kind of pain that I couldn't believe.

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After 7 years (it happened back in 2017), I thought he came back into my life to stay, but I guess he's just one of the guys who distanced. I felt a complete loser that time. But during this quarantine, everything was different. I caught feelings for someone else, but he treated me with the best kindness yet.

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It happened at 2 am, May 30, 2020, when I impulsively confessed my feelings through messaging him. After saying my feelings, he responded with genuine and kind words. We both even complimented each other. Although the feelings didn't reciprocate, I still found a connection that can't be replaced with any guy.

To my 16 year old self, here I am, 18 and happy. You may have felt that time was the biggest regret and loss, but I'm here to tell you, we won. Today, I won.

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Why our high school barkada is the best?

Remembering our high school years entails quite a lot reminiscing of the things we all been through when we were younger. You’ve experience a lot of new things during those 4 wonderful years and did most of them with the few people you consider your barkada. And through a series of all the lunch breaks you had together, the walks you took on the way home, and taking the same classes, you never thought you’d survive, you have made your life’s greatest friends.

Here are some of the reasons why your high school barkada is the best:

1. You figured out early teenage life together. The transition one have undergone from being a kid to a teenager wasn’t easy. For a moment you are not sure whether you should have played with your friends during recess or you should have just sat down and ate your food because you were too old for games. But whatever it is you chose to do, having friends who were as clueless as you make everything feel easier because you know, deep down, you’d figure things out eventually. You just need good company.

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2. They were with you during your “jeje“ days. I bet you have pictures taken with Camera360 and Retrica. You also have pictures edited using Pizap with embarrassing captions and you somehow kept some of them so you could have something to post online during their birthdays.

3. They know all your exes. They will never EVER forget the name of an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fling, an ex-crush, and an almost you had. They will remind you of your every questionable love decision but you’ll just laugh anyway while saying “Past is past”.

4. They never judge you. They have welcomed you to their lives when you thought jelly shoes and checkered polos were the bomb! They were quick to have told your teachers that you were not feeling well so you could go home when you really just needed to poop. You tell them every embarrassing story you have and were fine with it.

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5. You can always count on them. From the moment you first fell in love and the moment you first had your heart broken, they were with you. They were with you the moment you lost a parent and at moments when you thought you had nothing. Through every break-up and breakthrough, they were there to be your support system.

6. They are your family. Your high school friend’s family is your own family’s extension. Their parents are like your own. Don’t you feel a little kilig whenever your friend’s parents call you “anak”? And then eventually calling them mama and papa became so natural? I felt that, all the time.

7. They will always be your home. They are your place of refuge and security, the place who offers you their hands when you feel lost and the place you run to when you need saving. No matter how much time and distance separate you, they will be the one’s that you always long for and they are the one’s that you will always return to.

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