With her dream winter vacation to Barbados just around the corner, 15-year-old Peyton Linafelter had a lot to do. She still needed to pack and get her bathing suit situation figured out. She had so many to choose from, she didn’t know how to narrow down her choices. Plus, she needed to tone up her body with another series of gym visits. And then she wanted to spruce up her tan, but that could probably wait for the beaches of Barbados, she reasoned.
Months before, she was at a Taylor Swift concert, when a modeling agency came up to her and offered Peyton the opportunity of a lifetime. They wanted her to model their teen projects. The agency is called “Next Management” and has a supermodel client list that includes Kate Upton.
Peyton was thrilled. But there was just one thing. Her belly was bloated and the agency threatened to drop her unless she fixed her body…
Her stomach had started to expand and bloat in December 2015. With the modeling agency’s fresh attention, she was terrified. Would it go away? Would they kick her out of their organization? Looks were vital to success in the industry. Was she losing that “it” factor?
“My stomach was a little expanded. But I just thought I was eating a lot of carbs. I didn’t think anything of it…but each week my stomach got bigger and bigger.”
She forced the thought of her mind. She didn’t want to let her stomach bother her especially because she had that family vacation to Barbados to think about. She threw her skimpiest bikinis in the suitcase and caught the flight just in time.
But while she was lounging out on the beach, she started experiencing stomach pain. It terrified her so much that she put her vacation on hold to visit a doctor in Barbados.
The foreign doctor broke the bad news. He told Peyton that she had ovarian cysts. He suggested she seek more medical attention when she got back home to Colorado.
She ignored the doctor’s advice. But her stomach only grew bigger and bigger. Then she lost her appetite and dropped weight despite her bigger stomach. She later told Fox News that a few months later, she “looked like [she] was five months pregnant.”
But not only was her stomach damaging her modeling career, “My lower back hurt a lot and my abdomen was in pain.”
Then on her sixteenth birthday, she almost fainted in the shower. She was rushed to a doctor. There Peyton was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. She realized that everything she thought was so important didn’t matter at all.
While ovaries are supposed to be about the size of an almond, Dr. Saketh Guntupalli told CBS Denver that Peyton’s were as large as a grapefruit.
Ovarian cancer can occur at any age, but is most common in women ages 50 to 60. Dr. Guntupalli said that Peyton was one of the youngest people ever treated for it. But the cancer had spread to her lungs and abdomen.
She began chemotherapy, radiation and surgery treatments just days after the diagnosis because she had only a 17 percent chance of surviving.
On December 22, 2016, she was told she had won. She beat the odds.
Watch Peyton discuss her issue in the TV commercial below.
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