Photography: IRVIN RIVERA

Model: Peyton Linafelter @ NEXT Models







Tell us about your story.

I was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer on my 16th birthday. The tumors had spread throughout my entire abdominal cavity and lungs, causing my left lung to collapse. I was on oxygen full time and 2 weeks later, my oncology team realized that my small bowel was completely obstructed as I was losing weight very rapidly and couldn't keep anything down. This led to my hospitalization for 6 weeks as even though I had already had 3 rounds of chemo, the tumors were not shrinking rapidly enough to safely do surgery. An NG tube was inserted because of the obstruction, and for 4 LONG weeks, I only received food and nutrition via IV.
Surgery finally happened on July 5th, and I had a full hysterectomy, my spleen was removed, and 8 inches of my intestines cut out and sewn back together. Every single organ had cancer on it, so the surgery took 7 hours as the multiple surgical teams present had to burn or cut off every tumor seen with the naked eye. My scar runs from breast bone to pubic bone, but I'm here!! 8 total rounds of chemo, 40 lbs lost, a diagnosis that defied all odds, but I'm stronger than all that, and here to tell my story to raise awareness.


Tell us more about your hometown.

My hometown actually spreads throughout 3 different states!! I was born in Denver and lived here until I was 5, moved to the Loveland/Ft. Collins area (CO) until I was 8, then my Mom's job took us to Boston, MA (Go Sox!) for 4 years. I moved back to my Dad's hometown of Spearfish, SD when I was 12, then back to Denver with my Mom when I turned 15. I plan on having many more hometowns throughout my journey. 

Where are you currently based? Which city do you see yourself in?

I'm currently based in LA, I hope to see myself in other countries around the World!


How did modeling start for you? How were you scouted?

I was scouted at a Taylor Swift concert in 2015, but due to my health, was not able to sign or pursue modeling. In 2016, and after my remission diagnosis, I followed my scout to NEXT management and now am able to start my career.

What inspired you to be a model?

As a kid, I was always being scouted but my parents chose not to follow up on it. A couple years prior to be scouted in 2015, I said to myself that I would take the next person up on their offer. Little did I know that I'd be where I am!!


What's the best part of being a model?

I love modeling because it's an entirely different world, and much different than I could have imagined. I've also met some amazing people and had amazing opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise had.


What's your most memorable experience in modeling so far?

I had an amazing opportunity to be part of the rebranding campaign for UCHealth, which is the hospital where I received all my cancer treatment. My Mom and I were filmed for a 90 second commercial that aired during the Oscars, and the print campaign, shot by Martin Schoeller, has my face everywhere in Denver from billboards downtown to elevators at the hospital to social media platforms and over 150,000 views on YouTube. I'm lucky enough to be able to share my story and know that my modeling career, in only the few weeks I've been doing it, will be a wonderful combination where I can reach out to so many more people.


How do you manage your time as a model?

Since I'm still new at this, I'm learning as I go!

What is your dream project?
To work and live outside the United States.


Dream client?

Victoria's Secret. I want to break the standard with walking in bra and panties showing my scar to redefine what is typically seen as "perfect". 


What comes next after modeling?

After modeling, I'd like to become a PA (Physicians Assistant) and to specialize in treating kids and young adults.


Advice to any aspiring models out there?

Be yourself. Study, learn, absorb, take it all in, and don't focus your entire existence around one small idea. The world is big, so should your dreams. 


If you are going to have a book title, what would it be and why?

Beyond Expectations. Why? My cancer wasn't expected. My remission in 10 months from diagnosis wasn't expected. Being the face of Ovarian Cancer in young women wasn't expected. But here I am, and waiting to beat more expectations with every turn.


If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why? 

I would work closely with the Children's Hospital network because after months of misdiagnoses, they are the ones who finally figured out that I had cancer. Every kid who is sick and not feeling well should have the same opportunity as I did. Plus I love working and being around little kids.