Dayna Christison began modeling when she was younger, but never considered pursuing it as a career. But when a friend asked her to model for his fashion photography portfolio, she immediately agreed, hoping to define beauty in a different way from the norm: “bold and bald.”
According to Today, the now 25-year-old model was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012, right in the middle of her senior year at LIM College, a school that focuses on the business of fashion in New York. She went on to graduate from the college, only to learn that her cancer was not Stage II as originally diagnosed, but instead a much more severe Stage IV.
Christison underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy at the expense of her hair, and even received two stem cell transplants after learning that the cancer spread to her lungs.
That April, Today says that Christison entered a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. However, around the same time, she also signed a modeling contract with Major Models after she appeared at an open call for the agency.
Fast forward a year later, and Christison not only landed a modeling contract, but also walked down the runway at New York Fashion Week and modeled in a string of Urban Outfitters television commercials, something Today says she does in between the cancer treatments she receives every other week.
Christison explained that despite working in the fashion industry in production and styling positions since her graduation from college, she decided to model upon realized how it could inspire others, especially other cancer patients.
“I definitely wanted to go into this for other people. That was the main reason I started,” she said.
Receiving positive feedback from other women enduring cancer treatments lets Christison know that her impact is felt. “Cancer is such a terrible thing to deal with and process, but to have someone say that I helped them feel, even a little bit, more comfortable with what they looked like, just because of my own confidence? It’s so amazing when that happens,” she said.
As for Christison, Today says her treatments are going well, and she hopes to continue inspiring others through her efforts.
“People need to see it’s still okay to live your life if you have this disease. It’s not the end of the world. You just have to push through and persevere,” she said.
Thank you, Dayna Christison, for being a model of beauty and strength redefined.