Nina Garcia is opening up about her health. In a candid essay for Elle, the Project Runway judge shared that she'll be sitting out New York Fashion Week for the first time in 25 years. "I'll be watching from the sidelines at home, recovering from a double mastectomy," she revealed.
The difficult decision to undergo the surgery has been some four years in the making. Back in 2015, because of her family history, Nina underwent genetic testing for mutations that could increase her risk for breast or ovarian cancer. When she got the results back and found that she did have a mutation that increased her risk for breast cancer, the news provoked years of regular doctor visits.
"For three-plus years, I’ve been closely monitored, getting regular mammograms and breast checks," the editor-in-chief wrote. "Throughout this time, I’ve had numerous biopsies, two lumpectomies, and countless follow-ups. I’ve been marked up, poked, pricked, and turned upside down (literally!). None of the results were terrible, but there were signs — radial scars, a cluster of microcalcifications, the presence of precancerous cells — which could serve as premonitions for what might happen."
After the most recent rounds of tests, Nina decided to undergo the surgery for a double mastectomy. "I was living in a loop of testing, every day waking up thinking: Is today the day I will get cancer? I no longer wanted to have these scary thoughts, and I knew the only way they would stop was to schedule the surgery," Nina wrote. "The answer was clear."
Though the days following her decision were dark, a surprising silver lining has emerged. After finally opening up to one friend about her health concerns, and then sharing the news with another, and another, Nina has unearthed a support network she never even knew she had.
"I realized I’d entered an incredible community of strong women who had been through this and wanted to help, share their stories, and support me," she wrote. "For the first time in years, a dark cloud lifted, and I felt a sense of relief and clarity about my choice. I am so incredibly grateful for these amazing women who have given me the strength and guidance to take this head on and fight!"
For Nina, sharing her story represents an effort to support other women. "I ultimately decided to write this in hopes that my story might serve as comfort to at least one woman out there who is going through something similar," she wrote. "For that woman, I want you to know that you are not alone."