Linda Evangelista Reveals Two Breast Cancer Diagnoses in Five Years: “I’m Not Dying from This”

“I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode.”

Linda Evangelista at an event
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Supermodel Linda Evangelista is front and center this month, as one of four cover stars of Vogue’s September issue and as a subject of the forthcoming Apple TV+ docuseries The Super Models, which drops September 20. In WSJ. Magazine’s Fall Men’s Style issue, Evangelista revealed that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice in the past five years, bravely calling herself a “survivor on standby” and saying of the disease that “I’m not dying from this.”

Linda Evangelista on the cover of WSJ. Magazine

(Image credit: WSJ. Magazine)

The digital cover of the magazine was shot by longtime Evangelista collaborator and celebrated photographer Steven Meisel, and in the candid interview, she revealed that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018: “It was detected in my annual mammogram,” she said. “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.”

Then, in July 2022, Evangelista felt a lump on her breast, and learned that her breast cancer had returned. “Dig a hole in my chest,” she told her oncologist after her second diagnosis. “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 continued “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.”

Linda Evangelista at an event

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Evangelista’s post-cancer care oncologist recently told her that her prognosis is “good,” but the supermodel admitted that she asked her doctor “Why isn’t it great?” The doctor told her “Well, once it’s come back, there’s a chance,” Evangelista recounted, adding that she also received a “horrible oncotype score,” which is a number that represents the recurrence risk of cancer.

Because her future is uncertain, she remains grateful for each day: “I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode,” she said. “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.” 

Evangelista refers to herself as a two-time “survivor on standby,” telling WSJ. Magazine that she is only now ready to share her cancer battle—and wants to do so on her own terms. “I’ve kept it quiet,” she said. “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.'"

Her new book, out September 13, will see proceeds donated to breast cancer research. The book features nearly 200 photos of the supermodel shot by Meisel over nearly three decades, and also tells a story of their friendship, People reports. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.