Supermodel Pat Cleveland has been diagnosed with colon cancer after being rushed to hospital for emergency surgery from the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week.
Cleveland, 68, was hospitalized shortly after walking for Tommy Hilfiger in a 70s-inspired show that featured only African American models, including fellow icons Grace Jones and Veronica Webb on March 3.
Doctors discovered a tumor blocking her colon requiring surgery.
But the star does not have health insurance aside from Medicare, which doesn’t cover surgery abroad, driving her husband of 35 years Paul Van Ravenstein to set up a GoFundMe page.
Within a matter of hours, the page has amassed more than $46,000 from 146 donors, including designers Zac Posen and Anna Sui, model Kimora Lee Simmons, and an anonymous donor who gave $10,000.
Cleveland, 68, was hospitalized shortly after walking for Tommy Hilfiger in a 70s-inspired show. Pictured: Cleveland walks the runway for the Hellessy fashion at NYFW
The star was one of the first African American models featured on a magazine cover
‘While in Paris this week, Pat was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital where the doctors discovered colon cancer,’ Van Ravenstein wrote on the GoFundMe page, which aims to raise $150,000.
‘Pat has had surgery and will remain in Paris recovering until the doctors clear her for travel.
‘Thankfully, Anna [Cleveland van Ravenstein, their 30-year-old Paris-based model daughter] has been by Pat’s side throughout, taking great care of her mom.
‘I am headed to Paris this week and hope to have her back home soon so she can begin treatments here in the U.S.
‘Many thanks for your love, support and prayers. We are looking forward to having Pat back to her old self again very soon !’
Colon cancer is on the rise across the world, and the symptoms can be hard to detect early.
Doctors can spot colon cancer before it forms, but only through performing a colonoscopy to screen for polyps (small lumps) along the intestine walls.
As doctors rush to treat Cleveland, donors poured in with funds and well wishes
Cleveland and her husband Paul von Ravenstein attend the Opening Season Paris Opera Ballet Gala as part of the Paris Fashion Week in September 2018. The couple of 35 years live in New Jersey, near Cleveland’s native New York
If those are detected early, patients have a better chance of catching the disease before it becomes a reality, or before symptoms arise, at which point it’s more often more serious.
But study after study shows that the situation is more complicated and more sinister for African Americans, for many reasons.
A study published in 2016 found African Americans are more likely to develop colon tumors on their right side, which tend to be more malignant. African Americans are also more often diagnosed younger and at a later stage.
Since most of our medical research has historically been performed on white people, particularly white men, researchers are playing catch-up to understand why this is the case. It’s likely a combination of environmental factors, poor access to healthcare compared to Caucasians, and mistrust.
It’s not clear whether Cleveland had exhibited any symptoms, or what stage cancer doctors discovered.
Despite falling suddenly ill, she had been incredibly active recently, walking for Naeem Khan at New York Fashion Week in February and Tommy Hilfiger at Paris in March.
Pat Cleveland wearing Bill Blass Fall 2004 during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2004
And while colon cancer can be exacerbated by excess weight, poor diet and smoking, Cleveland’s husband said none of that apply.
He told PageSix: ‘She is so healthy, she is a vegan, doesn’t drink or smoke, she has had some stomach complaints for a few months, it got a little better but not totally, but when she got to Paris she felt very uncomfortable, her belly was swollen, and the doctor told her to get in a taxi and go to the American Hospital in Paris immediately.’
As doctors rush to treat Cleveland, donors poured in with funds and well wishes.
Kimora Lee Simmons donated $1,000 and wrote on GoFundMe: ‘Love you so much Pat! Praying for you, your family and for your speedy recovery! Love, Kimora and family’