Tessa James reckons her headline-making medical battle didn’t just change her life—it also shifted her perspective on self-worth.
The former Home and Away star, who was diagnosed with the rare and potentially fatal Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 (it is now in remission), opened up during an exclusive photo shoot for WHO’s Most Beautiful People issue in Sydney last month.
“There’s no doubt [being sick] helped me develop,” says James. “I was dealing with something that was life-changing. Now I feel really comfortable with myself, challenged, happy and confident. That was something that developed from that. And I’m extremely grateful for it.”
Being forced to slow down during her months of treatment also resulted in a new skill of sorts.
With a smile, James admits that “I’m definitely a fan of napping. I’ve learnt to love it. And only since I was unwell have I been able to do it. That was something mental—I had to allow my body to rest.”
James recently returned to acting in a Sydney production of the classic Australian play Blackrock, which allowed her to put her new talent to further use.
“When you’re doing two shows a day and photo shoots like this,” says James, “you have to look after and be kind to yourself. So maybe I don’t exude as much energy, maybe I don’t exercise quite as much. You have to take care of your body. I listen to my body. It wants me to treat it with kindness. And sometimes it just wants me to let it sleep!”
For more of WHO’s interview with Tessa James, pick up our bumper Most Beautiful People issue at newsagents now.