‘Not dying from this’: Supermodel reveals second secret health battle

Former supermodel Linda Evangelista has revealed she has battled two bouts of breast cancer in the past five years.

Evangelista told The Wall Street Journal she was first diagnosed in 2018.

“It was detected in my annual mammogram,” the 58-year-old said in an interview published on Tuesday (US time).

“The margins were not good, and due to other health factors, without hesitation, because I wanted to put everything behind me and not to have to deal with this, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy. Thinking I was good and set for life. Breast cancer was not going to kill me.”

It is far from the Canadian fashion icon’s first health battle. Early in 2022, she revealed she had spent years in hiding, feeling deep shame after a rare reaction to a fat-freezing procedure in 2015 left her “brutally disfigured” and “permanently deformed”.

She returned to the cover of British Vogue, but said it was far from a “comeback” with a make-up artist using tape and elastics to adjust her scarred face, jaw and neck for the fashion shoot.

“That’s not my jaw and neck in real life – And I can’t walk around with tape and elastics everywhere,” she told Vogue.

Of her cancer battle, Evangelista said she had “kept it quiet”.

Only a handful of people knew,” she said.

“I’m just not one of those people who has to share everything. I thought to myself, I will share this one day but while I am going through it, absolutely not.”

Then she found another lump in her breast in July 2022. Upon her second diagnosis, she told her doctor: “Dig a hole in my chest.

“I don’t want it to look pretty. I want you to excavate. I want to see a hole in my chest when you’re done. Do you understand me? I’m not dying from this.”

Of the treatment that followed, Evangelista said: “I just went into this mode that I know how to do – just do what you’ve got to do and get through it. And that’s what I did.”

She also revealed she lost her hair after her second round of chemotherapy: “This is all new hair,” she told WSJ.

“It came back very dark. It’s even curlier than it used to be. The first time, I lost all the hair on top of my head, like my grandfather did.”

Since then, Evangelista’s post-cancer care oncologist  has said her prognosis looks good.

“Not ‘great’? Why isn’t it great?” she asked.

That’s because doctors have told her that once cancer comes back “there’s a chance [it could return]”. She also has an Oncotype score — a number that predicts the recurrence of cancer — that is “horrible.”

Despite that, the former top model said she remained in “celebration mode”.

“I’ve come through some horrible health issues. I’m at a place where I’m so happy celebrating my book, my life. I’m so happy to be alive. Anything that comes now is [a] bonus,” she said.

Evangelista’s WSJ interview was to promote a book, Linda Evangelista Photographed by Steven Meisel, which is out next week. She also features alongside fellow 1990s supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington in upcoming Apple TV+ documentary The Super Models, which premieres on September 20.

Earlier this month, all four graced the cover of Vogue’s September 2023 issue.

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