Travel agent Jess' world was turned upside down last year when she discovered she had a 15cm-long tumour in her throat and neck.
After suffering from what she thought was glandular fever a few years previously, the MasterChef Australia contestant turned up to her doctor still feeling fatigued, only to find out she had a thyroid condition.
After further tests, doctors discovered a large lump in her throat – it was a tumour.
"I was told it had probably been there for about 10 years," Jess, 28, tells TV WEEK.
"And they said it would keep on growing. It was pretty scary."
After four-and-a-half hours in surgery, the tumour was removed.
"It was like an iceberg," Jess says. "The doctors wondered how I was even breathing. It was crushing my airwaves."
Thankfully, Jess' tumour was benign, yet that didn't stop her fearing the worst.
"I was really nervous because I'd never had surgery before," she explains. "I'd convinced myself I was going to die."
Jess is now fully recovered and considers MasterChef a whole new chapter.
"My health scare made me realise anything can happen," she explains. "I was waiting for an opportunity to change my life. It was the push I needed."
MasterChef Australia airs Monday to Thursday, and Sunday, 7.30pm, on 10.