They say our names “define” us, if it does, in that case, SI Swim Finalist, Victoria Vesce is truly celebrating victorious amongst the challenges and battles she’s endured the past decade.
A former NBA Dancer for the Charlotte Hornets from 2014 – 2017, Victoria, whom her friends would describe her as “the life of the party and always willing to drop everything and help”, was living a normal life, “I was able to travel the world NBA from NBA Global Games in Shanghai to being a part of the RIO 2016 Olympics, it was an experience I would never trade”.
She seemed like a perfectly healthy 23 year old on the outside but the inside she was fighting for more than she knew. In 2017, all the dancing, the traveling, the fun came to an abrupt stop after multiple misdiagnoses, doctors finally found a tumor on her brain which was causing her to suffer random dizziness, headaches and unfortunately, the total loss of her hearing in her right ear; her diagnoses was multiple paraganglioma, a brain-skull tumor and a carotid body tumor and was eventually hospitalized at Duke University Hospital.
“It was a long tough battle that I still endure. Going from the most healthy and active lifestyle of a 23 year old that looked fine on the outside to having to learn how to walk, eat, and bathe myself again took a strenuous toll on my body and mental health,” explains Vesce, “It was weird going from hearing perfectly for 23 years to getting half of it taken away so suddenly. I used to love music so much, and now it is secondary in my life. It’s been hard being in social settings sometimes even with my hearing aids, but knowing that that is the only major side effect of my tumor makes me feel incredibly blessed.I was tenacious in that I knew I wanted to live again. My mom (whom she lost to Covid-19 late last year) was my biggest supporter and helped me along the way. I give a lot of credit to her. I pursue my dreams even bigger and better now, because I know to myself…I only have one life to live.”
Among those dreams that she continues to bring to life is achieving her Juris Doctorate and becoming a full time attorney. “As a woman in society, I felt like having a doctorate would overall make me become more credible and be heard. I did not want to be overlooked as just having a pretty face, I want to be respected and known for my intelligence as well and Law was the career that has always piqued my interest” states Vesce.
This year at Miami Swim Week, Victoria was honored at 5th Annual Wonder Woman Initiative which not only showcases female owned designers, but also honors and acknowledges women who are making a difference and helping their communities and importantly, other women, thrive. “Wonder Woman has been my icon for as long as I can remember, and for me to be Wonder Woman in reality, pursuing law would coincide with that dream.”
Speaking of Swim Week, soon, many will see Victoria gracing the pages of SI Swim this summer as she was amongst one of this year’s finalists. “I had always wanted to be in SI Swim, but I didn’t know if now was the time, but something told me (maybe my mom in my heart) told me to go for it. There’s never going to be a “perfect” time, but this was for me. I didn’t overthink it, I just went for it.” says Vesce.
Vesce is now using her social platform as a mental health advocate as such changes in one’s life can take a toll on one’s mental wellness. “Mental health is something I used to overlook, but Mental Health is REAL and it needs to be talked about more often. Being from the rural south, mental health is so taboo, but now realizing how I need to take time for myself and really nurture my soul has been the most healthy. My personal grief story has been one for the books. I not only endured the trauma of losing my mom, but I also endured the pain of having and dealing with a tumor in my head. It’s a lot for a 29 year old. I lost the love of my life. Gone in an instant. The pain will never go away, but the way I continue her legacy helps me everyday to heal.”
You can follow Vesce’s journey on her Instagram. ”I have a lot of exciting experiences happening, and I hope to create my own TV show before the end of the year!“