back to top

This 25-Year-Old Got A Modeling Contract Despite Battling Cancer

"It's how you decide to react to those obstacles and how you push through them that makes you achieve the things that you really want to get out of life," she told BuzzFeed News.

Posted on

This is Dayna Christison, a 25-year-old from Warwick, New York.

When Christison was 22, she was diagnosed with a type of cancer called Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Doctors originally told her the cancer was stage two, but she later learned it was likely stage four.

"I was just coming out of graduation and trying to figure out my next step in life," she told BuzzFeed News.

For the past three years, Christison has been fighting her disease. She has gone through chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, and is now involved in a clinical trial.

But though she's been fighting cancer for most of her 20s, Christison also has been doing something else that's pretty incredible. She began to model, and is now working with global modeling agency Major Models.

So far, she has walked in six shows and has appeared in ads for companies like Urban Outfitters.


Christison said that she decided to start modeling after her second stem cell transplant. She got into it after her friend, a photographer, asked her if he could take some photos of her for his portfolio.

"I agreed and from there, when he started posting the photos I got a bunch of photographers that were really interested in working with me," she said. "Mind you, I was straight bald at this point."

After that, she decided to go to a casting call, and has been working with Major Models since the summer. "It was really surreal," she said of walking in the shows.

Even though Christison had dabbled in modeling before, she didn't become interested in it until after she was diagnosed. After she lost her hair, she explained, she couldn't find many good role models of other ladies rocking a bald head in the media.

Craig La Mere/ Dayna Christison

"I refused to wear a wig or a scarf because, fuck everyone else, that's how I looked and I didn't want to hide that because of what other people thought," she said.

"It was hard sometimes. I would get a lot of anxiety walking into places and felt weird when people would ask me about it."

But when she began to go out with a bald head, other women fighting cancer would approach her and tell her she was brave for having the confidence to rock her bald look.

"It was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had to have someone say that I helped them feel more confident because of my confidence," she said. "I decided then that I needed to do this to help anyone I can feel even a little bit more secure in such an insecure time in their lives."

Now, Christison is hoping to inspire cancer fighters and others through her modeling career.

She said that she believes facing difficulties in life shouldn't keep you from living and accomplishing your dreams.

"I feel like everyone, at some point, has obstacles that they're trying to overcome, it's just a part of life," she said. "There's always going to be something pushing you back. It's how you decide to react to those obstacles and how you push through them that makes you achieve the things that you really want to get out of life."

She added that she's not sure yet what she wants to do next, but she's loving getting to inspire others through her work in the fashion industry.

"I know that I want to help and inspire others and I know that I want to do it in my own way," she said.