From Cervical Cancer To Chocoholic Tour Guide: Jessica’s Amazing Story

From Cervical Cancer To Chocoholic Tour Guide: Jessica Gilchrist's Amazing Story
The Carousel The Carousel has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Sep 30, 2016

Jessica Gilchrist from Melbourne shares her story about how she bravely fought against cervical cancer and hysterectomy at age 27 to fulfil her dream as chocolate tour guide.

Here Jessica shares her story of courage and resilience about how she pulled herself through ill health to pursue her passion for chocolate and turned it into a thriving business called ChocoholicTours. Her tours provide the ultimate journey through Melbourne’s secret laneways and arcades to indulge your inner chocoholic. Could you possibly dream of a better job?

I feel like the last two years have been the pinnacle of my story.

It started when I was asked to run my aunty Suzie’s business Chocoholic Tours in 2014. My background is Event Management so I already loved organising events and saw the tours as mini events.

Jessica Gilchrist chocolate tours
Jessica Gilchrist’s chocolate tours in Melbourne are a sweet success

After working in the business in 2014 I decided to accept and signed ownership in January 2015.

I spent the first half of the year rebranding, systemising, building a new website, restructuring how we were marketing and who too.

Then, December 2015, three days before Christmas I was told I had Cervical Cancer.

I never expected to hear something like this. The day my doctor called she had already booked me in with an Oncologist at the Mercy Hospital for Women to next day. I was in shock and very scared.

I was told I had Adenocarcinoma cervical cancer, the rarest one. I had two options and they both bought me to tears and both meant complications with having children.

I had an operation booked in for January 2016. I was nervous, terrified and very emotional. While I was in recovery my surgeon came into my room to tell me the pathology results, it was not good news. The cancer had been found in my lymph nodes. This now meant that I couldn’t ever give birth and I had to go through six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. At this stage I was exhausted, emotional and seriously ready to give up.

My next operation was going to be a radical hysterectomy. My partner and I had just days to discuss children. We both wanted children so our only option now was IVF. This was just another thing I had to start processing.

During the initial consultations with my IVF doctor they said I would get around 15 – 20 eggs from my ovaries based on my age and wellness.

After an eight day cycle, I went in for my egg collection. I got four eggs in total. My heart stopped when I found out. My entire body started to shake, I had never had anxiety before but I think I had an attack. The disappointing news just kept coming. I spent that entire day in bed crying, I couldn’t move, eat, drink and I just wanted to be in a dark room.

The next operation was February, 2016, complete radical hysterectomy meaning at age 27 I was also going to be going through menopause followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

I had not been at Chocoholic Tours for two months. I had sent my team video updates and the support I received was incredible.

Jessica Gilchrist surrounded by her close friends and supporters
Jessica Gilchrist surrounded by her close friends and loved ones

The radiotherapy and chemotherapy started in March and finished in late April 2016. The entire process was exhausting. Anyone that has to go through this is such a remarkable person.

I am now back at work after seven months and the time away has made me think about what I really want in life, what makes me happy as an individual, what’s important to me and what mark do I want to make on the world.

I have a new perspective on life, I will forever cherish my strong relationships with family and friends and I want to bring more happiness into peoples lives through my tours.

Jessica Gilchrist will take you on a journey through Melbourne an indulge your inner chocoholic
Jessica Gilchrist will take you on a journey to indulge your inner chocoholic

I am so passionate about what I do and I really want to make a difference in the Tourism and Chocolate industries.

The Carousel thanks Jessica Gilchrist for this inspirational story. For the ultimate chocolate tours in Melbourne, click here.



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