As she gears up for the release of a new book honoring her legacy, Linda Evangelista is speaking publicly about her breast cancer diagnosis for the first time.
The supermodel graces the digital cover of WSJ Magazine’s fall issue, unveiled Tuesday. In the accompanying interview, she reveals that she was diagnosed with breast cancer twice ― first in 2018 and then again in 2022.
“It was detected in my annual mammogram,” Evangelista said of 2018. “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.”
Unfortunately, Evangelista’s remission didn’t last for long. In July 2022, she once again detected a lump in her breast. After it was confirmed that her breast cancer had returned, she instructed her oncologist to “dig a hole in my chest.”
“I don’t want it to look pretty,” she recalled telling surgeons. “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.”
As to her desire to stay quiet about her diagnosis until now, Evangelista says she’s “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,” she explained. “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.’”
Linda Evangelista in 2015.
The revelation comes a little more than a week ahead of the release of “Linda Evangelista Photographed by Steven Meisel.” Due out Sept. 13, the book serves as a colorful retrospective of Evangelista’s decadeslong career in the fashion industry.
It features more than 200 photos taken by Meisel, who is best known for his work with Madonna, Mariah Carey and other top stars. He also photographed Evangelista for WSJ Magazine’s cover.
Though this is the first time Evangelista has spoken about her diagnosis on the record, she appeared to hint at her illness while addressing her friendship with actor Salma Hayek in an interview with Vogue last month. Hayek is married to French businessman François-Henri Pinault, who shares a 16-year-old son, Augustin James, with Evangelista.
“I was sick at Thanksgiving,” said Evangelista, who was in a relationship with Pinault from 2005 to 2006. “And Salma got on the plane with her daughter, came here, and made Thanksgiving dinner.”
These days, the model tells WSJ Magazine that her prognosis is “good,” but acknowledges: “Well, once it’s come back, there’s a chance.”
As to her “uncertain” future, she adds: “I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode.”