From a Model’s Perspective

Christine Handy

I am a lifelong model who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41. For most of my life, I believed my physical beauty and my modeling career defined my worth. I felt my value in this world was nothing without my attractiveness.

When chemotherapy and breast surgeries tore apart my external facade and changed my physical attributes, ultimately my inner prowess showed up to reveal the greatest beauty that was within me. Cancer didn’t destroy me or my image. My beauty wasn’t the physical perception society judged me as. My inner winsomeness triumphed.

I’m lucky cancer showed me my real value. And as I continue my modeling career even today, my smile and my light continues to thrive because I added that inner beauty to my shell.

I wrote a book called Walk Beside Me that includes my journey with breast cancer. It is a fictional depiction of my life which is now being made into a film called Willow the Feature Film.

I am not only a cancer survivor but I am on a mission to serve the breast cancer community everyday through my personal story by being an Ambassador for organizations like Learn Look Locate.

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.christinehandy.com

Instagram: @christinehandy1

Learn Look Locate - Our Mission

I dreamt of becoming a model at a tender age and started my career at age 11. I carried that career until I was diagnosed with cancer in October 2012, I was 41 years young. My whole life, my identity was my beauty, and when it was stolen, the measure of my self value was destroyed. It wasn’t until far into arduous chemotherapy, hair loss, scars and surgeries, that I slowly got away from society’s value of me and realized my beauty was within, not external.

Learn Look Locate - Our Mission

28 rounds of chemotherapy do a number on your self- worth. But when you add my warped opinion that my sole existence was my beauty, it complicates things. It took months of diving deep into my soul to look at who I was, and it wasn’t only the shell that I gave the glory to. It was much deeper. Cancer taught me countless lessons, maybe the greatest was that my worth was not in my facade but my worth was inside of me and what I decided to do with the pain of that loss.

Learn Look Locate - Our Mission

I remember my first modeling photo shoot after chemotherapy like it was yesterday. My internal light beamed through the camera. The familiarity and comfort of being in front of the camera again, helped me recover from the trauma of breast cancer. Modeling was like an appendage for me, I clung to it until I was forced to quit. Once I was well enough and took a leap of faith to dive back into the industry, I regained some true joy. Not a joy of dependence, but a joy of freedom to choose and be apart of something that meant so much for me for so many years.

Learn Look Locate - Our Mission

During my cancer journey I made a decision to write a book. A fictional book about my life including cancer. This was quite a career pivot from the world of modeling but I accepted the challenge and wow did it work. My book became a national best seller and has helped countless people throughout their journeys. It took cancer for me to get out of my box and explore ways to serve instead of being self- serving. I’ve never been happier.

Learn Look Locate - Our Mission

This past spring I developed an infection in my left breast cavity after an implant surgery. The FDA recalled the implants I had and and they needed to be swopped out. Unfortunately, the infection destroyed the beautiful cavity and the ability to have implants. After 2 very painful surgeries I now have a flat/ concave chest. Although it’s been another unexpected adjustment, I really loved the implants, I feel completely whole. I don’t feel any need to cover my scars or chest and I hope my decisions inspire others to feel just as beautiful completely bare chested.

Learn Look Locate - Our Mission

I continue to model even with my new empty chest. Life isn’t about disguising who we are to fit society, it’s about flaunting who we are and the ones who accept and love you are the ones who matter. I have the audacity to be who I am in all areas of my life, including the modeling world. I march on to normalize what my new normal looks like for not just myself but from others. It doesn’t come from me, it comes through me. Let’s be on this journey together.

Walk Beside Me

Building a Community

This page is a safe place to ignite a community that has had loss of identity and fear over physical transformations during and after breast cancer and/ or chemotherapy. It’s ok to say I’m afraid to lose my hair, my body image and what I believe defined me. It’s a page of hope, from one model who took a long time to come to grips with the physical scars but in the end never felt better. Society doesn’t define you, you do.

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