On 23 March, Cleveland was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent emergency surgery, according to the GoFundMe account set up by Cleveland’s husband Paul Van Ravenstein.
According to Van Ravenstein, who revealed that doctors currently do not know the extent or stage of Cleveland’s cancer, his wife’s diagnosis came as a “shock”.
“She is so healthy, she is a vegan, doesn’t drink or smoke, she has had some stomach complaints for a few months, it got a little better but not totally, but when she got to Paris she felt very uncomfortable, her belly was swollen, and the doctor told her to get in a taxi and go to the American Hospital in Paris immediately,” Van Ravenstein told Page Six.
Following the surgery, Van Ravenstein said Cleveland, who is expected to return to the US in April for chemotherapy, is “doing OK” and “staying strong”.
Van Ravenstein also admitted that despite his wife’s successful career spanning five decades, they do not have the funds to afford her cancer treatment.
“Pat has had a successful career, but we are not rich, she modelled in the days when there was no big paychecks, no big endorsement deals,” he said. “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.”
Since setting up the GoFundMe page, the family has raised more than $56,000 of the $150,000 goal.
Cleveland became a recognised name and face in the modelling industry in the 60s and 70s, when she broke racial barriers as one of the first prominent African-American models, in both print and on the runway.
Currently, Cleveland is recovering in Paris with her daughter Anna, who has been by her side throughout the diagnosis, according to the GoFundMe page.
On Instagram, Anna asked for help with her mother’s treatment, captioning a photo of Cleveland: “You are everything joie de vivre. You have given so much light to this world. 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.”
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, and symptoms include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or blood, and persistent abdominal discomfort, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies