Linda Evangelista has battled breast cancer twice in the last five years.
The 58-year-old supermodel had both breasts removed when she was first diagnosed with the disease in 2018 after undergoing a routine mammogram, and though she thought the operation meant she would be "set for life", she was shocked to discover another lump in July 2022.
Of her first diagnosis, Linda told WSJ. Magazine's Fall Men's Style issue: “It was detected in my annual mammogram.
“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.”
And she recalled telling her oncologist after the second diagnosis: “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.”
She added: “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.”
Following her treatment, Linda was unhappy when her doctor told her that her prognosis is "good", demanding to know why it isn't "great", prompting the medic to explain there was always a "chance" the cancer could return again and she had received a "horrible oncotype score", which refers to the recurrence risk.
But for now, the fashion icon is "in celebration mode" and grateful for every day.
She said: “I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode.
“I’ve come through some horrible health issues. I’m at a place where I’m so happy celebrating my book ['Linda Evangelista Photographed by Steven Meisel'], my life. I’m so happy to be alive. Anything that comes now is bonus.”
Describing herself as a "survivor on standby", it has taken until now for Linda to feel ready to share her health battles.
She said: “I’ve kept it quiet. Only a handful of people knew. And 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. I don’t want the Daily Mail waiting outside my door like they do every time something happens. ‘Linda seen for the first time since blah blah blah.’ ”
The full feature, accompanied by photos taken by Steven Meisel, is available in print on newsstands from 16 September.