Jess Weller


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Getting diagnosed with a life threatening illness is never something you expect to happen especially when you are young, healthy and on your OE on the other side of the world.

Jess was living the kiwi travellers dream in London, working as a teacher and travelling Europe. Four months into her visa, Jess was diagnosed with an uncommon form of aggressive breast cancer, she was 27. On completion of treatment and returning home to New Zealand, she founded the WELLer Network to educate young kiwi's about the prevention and awareness of cancer and to encourage those with a lived experience of a health challenge to share their stories to empower young people to have healthy conversations that could save their lives. 

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Key steps in the journey

Jess took part in Live the Dream – a programme helping young social entrepreneurs to develop their ventures. Whilst there she learnt about social enterprise business models, connected with mentors and other entrepreneurs, and founded The WELLer Network.

“Talking about my experience sets my soul on fire, and it’s so important that we embrace talking about difficult subjects like cancer this because illness can happen at anytime. I try to use a little bit of humour. You never know how an audience will respond but if you have a bit of a laugh you can shine a light and have a really healthy conversation and that’s the whole point of what we are trying to do.” 

Through the WELLer Network, Jess delivered workshops and speeches to educate and inspire thousands of young New Zealanders.