Ahead of her diagnosis, Cleveland, 68, had walked in a Tommy Hilfiger show during Paris Fashion Week

By Joelle Goldstein
April 01, 2019 09:00 PM
Advertisement

The family of acclaimed supermodel Pat Cleveland is asking for help with medical expenses after she was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this month.

Following her appearance in a Tommy Hilfiger show during Paris Fashion Week, Cleveland, 68, unexpectedly fell ill and was rushed to a French hospital. On March 23, the American supermodel was informed by doctors that she had colon cancer, her family confirmed on GoFundMe.

In the wake of the diagnosis, Cleveland’s husband Paul Van Ravenstein set up the GoFundMe campaign to assist with medical expenses, as he explained to Page Six that his wife does not have any health insurance coverage.

“Pat has no health insurance, she only has Medicare, which won’t cover anything outside of the country. We didn’t even think about it because Pat has been so healthy,” Van Ravenstein, the director of Women and Fashion Film Festival, told Page Six.

“We had no option but to set up a GoFundMe; we have been so grateful for everyone’s support, she’s worked with so many people over her career,” he added.

Since Van Ravenstein created the GoFundMe campaign on March 31, it has raised over $46,000, with donations pouring in from fans, family, and friends alike, including designer Zac Posen and model Kimora Lee Simmons.

Pat Cleveland during New York Fashion Week in February
| Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Cleveland rose to fame in the fashion world during the ’60s and ’70s, as one of the first African American models to break the racial barriers of the modeling industry. Her career has extended well into her 60’s, after a brief hiatus to raise her two children, and she has even passed her love for the runway onto her daughter, Anna Cleveland. (Anna is currently a Paris-based model.)

Though the news came as a shock to Van Ravenstein and Anna, Cleveland had reportedly been having issues with her health for several months, according to Page Six.

After experiencing unusual digestive problems, her husband of nearly 40 years said the model sought medical attention in New York. “She has had some stomach complaints for a few months, it got a little better but not totally,” Van Ravenstein explained to the outlet.

While in Paris recently, Cleveland saw another doctor on March 23 after she experienced discomfort and swelling in her stomach.

“The doctor told her to get in a taxi and go to the American Hospital in Paris immediately,” Van Ravenstein told Page Six. “A scan found a cancerous tumor blocking her colon, and she went into surgery immediately and they operated on her for two and a half hours.”

On the GoFundMe campaign, Van Ravenstein said that Anna, 30, had been by her mother’s side since the medical emergency and he was planning to get to Europe this week.

“Pat will remain in Paris recovering until the doctors clear her for travel,” Van Ravenstein wrote. “Thankfully, Anna 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.”

At this time, it is unclear what stage cancer Cleveland has, but test results are expected to return on Tuesday, Van Ravenstein told WWD.

Despite the grim news, Van Ravenstein said his wife is progressing since her surgery and preparing to return to the U.S.

“She has been slowly improving over the last week, so it’s a process. It’s a long process. They think they will release her from the hospital on April 8. But I don’t know if they will let her fly right away,” he told WWD.

“I am planning to stay with her in Paris through the end of the month to give her rest and strengthen her before flying back to America where she will have to do all the follow-up treatments,” Van Ravenstein added.

RELATED VIDEO: Janice Dickinson Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Following her mother’s diagnosis, Anna posted three tribute posts on Instagram — two which featured photos of the pair modeling together, and another shot of Cleveland from years ago.

On the day of her surgery, Anna wrote alongside the black and white mother-daughter shot, “My best friend, mother,sister you are my everything ♥️”

Four days ago, she added another shot of the pair and captioned it: “I am with you. You are my everything all my heart and thoughts go to you my mom, my best friend heal may all the light be with you.”

Most recently, the model shared a photo of her mother, attached the GoFundMe link in the caption, and thanked her followers for their support through this trying time.

“You are everything joie de vivre✨✨ you have given so much light to this world,” she wrote. “Wishing all the light to return to you. Mom is in the hospital here in France with no medical coverage. Please help my mother make it through cancer spread the word thank you for you[r] very needed support through this journey.”