Linda Evangelista reveals she's been battling cancer privately for 5 years, but she's ready to talk about it now

Linda Evangelista smiles while wearing a black patterned coat and skirt against a black backdrop.
Linda Evangelista has revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. (Evan Agostini / Invision / AP)

Linda Evangelista revealed in a new interview that she has been privately battling breast cancer for five years.

The veteran fashion model, 58, told the Wall Street Journal that doctors detected breast cancer during her annual mammogram in December 2018. When she received the news, she said, her instinct was to "put everything behind" her and "not have to deal" with it.

“The margins were not good, and due to other health factors, without hesitation ... I opted for a bilateral mastectomy," she said in an interview published Tuesday.

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After the surgery, Evangelista thought she was "good and set for life," confident that "breast cancer was not going to kill" her. About four years later, she noticed a lump on her chest, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Despite her surgical oncologist's "unimpressed" reaction to the discovery, Evangelista quickly scheduled an MRI, which led to a biopsy.

“Oh, God, we’re going to biopsy something that’s ‘nothing?’" Evangelista recalled thinking at the time.

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When the biopsy results confirmed there was cancer in Evangelista's pectoral muscle, the runway star ordered her surgeon to "dig a hole" in her chest.

“I don’t want it to look pretty," she recalled telling her physician. "I want you to excavate. ... Do you understand me? I’m not dying from this.”

While living with the disease, Evangelista has undergone radiation and chemotherapy. She said she entered a familiar mode during treatment: "Just do what you've got to do and get through it."

Read more: Linda Evangelista 'pleased to have settled' CoolSculpting case after failed procedure

Her oncologist explained that her prognosis is less-than-great because the cancer came back, which means "there's a chance" things could get worse.

“I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode," Evangelista told the Wall Street Journal.

Evangelista also discussed her decision to keep "quiet" about her cancer battle for years, adding that "only a handful of people knew" about her diagnosis until now.

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"I’m just not one of those people who has to share everything,” she said.

“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.’"

Evangelista only recently returned to modeling after suing Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc. in 2017 for allegedly botching a cosmetic procedure that she said left her "unrecognizable" and "permanently deformed." She settled the case in July 2022.

Last year, Evangelista opened up to People magazine about deciding to speak about her experience publicly.

“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” she said at the time. “I can’t live like this anymore, in hiding and shame.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.