Victoria Vesce, SI Swim model and brain tumor survivor, receives honor during Miami Swim Week: 'This fuels me'

·5 min read

Victoria Vesce, a finalist for this year’s SI Swim Search, has plenty of reasons to be thankful.

The model, full-time attorney and brain tumor survivor was honored at The 5th Annual Wonder Woman Initiative during Miami Swim Week in Miami Beach, Florida.

The initiative curates special events that celebrate survivors of domestic violence and trauma and honors women who have overcome odds within their communities.

Founded by Tayo Ishola, a Miami-based fashion designer for the Eido Swimwear brand, it aims to empower women and encourage others to share their stories.

SI SWIM MODEL VICTORIA VESCE RECALLS OVERCOMING ‘NIGHTMARE’ BRAIN TUMOR: ‘I HAD EVERY SYMPTOM IN THE BOOK’

Victoria Vesce walks the runway wearing KEVA J SWIM at Miami Swim Week powered by Art Hearts Fashion at Faena Forum July 15, 2022, in Miami Beach, Fla. <span class="copyright">Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion</span>
Victoria Vesce walks the runway wearing KEVA J SWIM at Miami Swim Week powered by Art Hearts Fashion at Faena Forum July 15, 2022, in Miami Beach, Fla. Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion

In 2017, Vesce was diagnosed with multiple paraganglioma, a brain-skull tumor and a carotid body tumor that required surgery and pinpoint radiation treatment. During her time at Duke University Hospital, she voluntarily participated in a study to help more patients overcome rare tumors.

Today, the former NBA dancer for the Charlotte Hornets is an advocate for the National Brain Tumor Society, an organization that helped her during her radiation treatments at Duke Cancer Institute.

"Being a part of such a great initiative that empowers women and being chosen for my leadership and vulnerability is amazing," Vesce told Fox News Digital. "Wonder Woman for me is such an icon, and receiving the award means a lot to me, affirming that I’m going down the right path and doing the right thing.

"Sometimes, when you’re vulnerable, you don’t really know who you are impacting, if you are impacting anyone at all. For me, this fuels me to continue to keep it real and honest on my social media and continue to help others along my journey of life."

Victoria Vesce walks the runway wearing KEVA J SWIM at Miami Swim Week powered by Art Hearts Fashion at Faena Forum July 15, 2022, in Miami Beach, Fla. <span class="copyright">Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion</span>
Victoria Vesce walks the runway wearing KEVA J SWIM at Miami Swim Week powered by Art Hearts Fashion at Faena Forum July 15, 2022, in Miami Beach, Fla. Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion

Vesce hopes that in chronicling her health journey, others will be encouraged to speak up if they’re experiencing similar symptoms.

"During Miami Swim Week, I wasn’t at my peak physical performance and did not necessarily feel like my ultimate best self to be in front of all the cameras," Vesce admitted. "If I’m going to preach about empowering women and others, I have to love myself through any phase or circumstance.

"My body may have not been at my peak, but I spoke about not being at my physical best yet still being confident … at the moment. We aren’t promised tomorrow or even the next breath. It’s nice to be able to look forward to how you’ll be in the future or how you’ll look in a couple of months, but right now and who you are in this moment is the most important."

Despite receiving praise and encouragement from her followers on social media, Vesce said it wasn’t easy dealing with trolls who were just as quick to be critical online.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER

Victoria Vesce was featured at this year's Wonder Woman Initiative at Miami Beach, Fla. <span class="copyright">Sergi Alexander/Getty Images</span>
Victoria Vesce was featured at this year's Wonder Woman Initiative at Miami Beach, Fla. Sergi Alexander/Getty Images

"Embracing my flaws throughout the past couple of weeks on social media gained a lot of feedback," she said. "I was called ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ throughout the whole Miami Swim Week, but that’s just the industry I’m in. I’m used to it, but I did not let that stop me from being confident and working the runway. I decided to use my social media to talk about it, and the response was amazing. It helped girls and other models feel confident in their skin too.

"My motto is to always be a light to others to help guide them into loving themselves as much as I have learned to love myself," said Vesce. "Helping others shine doesn’t dim my light at all, it just makes the world a whole lot lighter."

Vesce previously told Fox News Digital that despite losing "100%" of her hearing in her right ear, she’s "doing great." The model has been proactive in getting routine MRI checkups. She also noted how her appearance in the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, currently on newsstands, has made her hopeful about her future.

"I didn’t know who I was anymore," she said. "I felt like I was losing a sense of myself. I was losing my spirit, my motivation. And to get chosen for anything brought some spark back into my life again. It felt like I was doing something right. It motivated me to share my story with others. Maybe I could inspire someone to not give up, no matter what they’re going through.

FITNESS ICON DENISE AUSTIN, 65, AND DAUGHTER KATIE MODEL BIKINIS FOR SI SWIMSUIT RUNWAY SHOW: ‘PROUD MAMA’

"Honestly, I’m just grateful to be part of this next chapter in my life, no matter the result," Vesce added. "It gave me such a gift. I feel so much more hopeful now. And I’m excited for what is to come. When people look at me, they would never know all the trauma I went through, all the struggles I endured.

"But I hope that I can make a difference in people’s lives and inspire them to do what they think isn’t possible. Even if you don’t think it’s possible, just try. I did."

As a finalist in the SI Swim Search, Vesce was chosen among thousands of submissions to be photographed by acclaimed SI photographer Yu Tsai. The winner of the annual casting call will become a rookie in the 2023 issue.