Sarafina Nance, SI Swim mannequin, talks showing in 2022 challenge after double mastectomy: ‘I fell to the bottom’

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Sarafina Nance might have large desires of heading to house, however the concept of being a Sports activities Illustrated Swimsuit mannequin appeared out of this world – at the very least till now.

The astrophysicist and analog astronaut is a finalist on this 12 months’s SI Swim Search. The Austin, Texas, native was chosen amongst hundreds of submissions to be photographed by acclaimed SI photographer Yu Tsai within the Dominican Republic. The winner of the annual casting name will turn into a rookie within the 2023 challenge.

Not a foul accomplishment for somebody who beforehand insisted she solely owns one bathing go well with.

Sarafina Nance is a finalist on this 12 months’s SI Swim Search.
(Yu Tsai/Sports activities Illustrated Swimsuit)

However for Nance, it’s a chance to share her story globally. She is a BRCA2+ breast most cancers previvor who selected to have a preventative double mastectomy at age 26 to decrease her extraordinarily excessive danger of breast most cancers – 87%. Following breast reconstruction, Nance has been vocal concerning the significance of genetic testing, self-checks and preventative medication.


Nance spoke to Fox Information Digital about what it means for her to seem on this 12 months’s challenge, who impressed her to rock a two-piece and the way her dad and mom reacted.

Fox Information: What compelled you to check out for this 12 months’s SI Swim Search?
Sarafina Nance: All of it ties into my story. I’ve the BRCA2+ genetic mutation, which places me at excessive danger of breast most cancers and ovarian most cancers. I had a preventative double mastectomy over two years in the past to cut back my danger of breast most cancers. I used to be sharing my journey publicly on-line and I gained an incredible neighborhood that supported me alongside the best way. 

Sarafina Nance is an astrophysicist, analog astronaut, BRCA2+ breast cancer previvor, women's health advocate and author.

Sarafina Nance is an astrophysicist, analog astronaut, BRCA2+ breast most cancers previvor, ladies’s well being advocate and writer.
(Courtesy of Sarafina Nance)

One in all my associates knew concerning the SI Swim Search and recommended that I ought to attempt it. I’ve by no means actually thought-about doing one thing like this, however she actually inspired me. And I did… the thought of those stunning, empowering ladies from all completely different communities coming collectively to share their tales drew my consideration. And that compelled me to use.

Fox Information: Have been you acquainted with the journal earlier than making use of?
Nance: I didn’t know an excessive amount of about SI rising up. In fact, I noticed the magazines. They had been at my native Barnes & Noble and newsstands. Nevertheless it wasn’t up till a number of years in the past that I heard about Allyn Rose. She was the primary girl with a mastectomy to seem within the journal. She’s an unbelievable advocate for members of the breast most cancers neighborhood. I remembered how stunning and empowering she appeared. It actually impressed me.


Fox Information: Deciding to have a preventative double mastectomy is, evidently, a troublesome selection. How did you are feeling as soon as your process was over?
Nance: You recognize, I felt so happy with myself. I felt empowered about my choice. Sure, it was an extremely troublesome time. I had three surgical procedures in a single 12 months. It was bodily draining, mentally draining and emotionally draining. It impacted each aspect of my life. However I made this choice for myself. I bear in mind waking up and simply feeling terribly happy with taking cost of my well being.

Sarafina Nance had a preventative double mastectomy, followed by breast reconstruction surgeries.

Sarafina Nance had a preventative double mastectomy, adopted by breast reconstruction surgical procedures.
(Courtesy of Sarafina Nance)

Fox Information: And now you’re a finalist within the SI Swim Search. What was your response?
Nance: I used to be utterly astonished. I fell to the bottom. Every thing was taken out of me. I couldn’t consider it. It was some of the surreal moments of my life. I instantly referred to as my dad and mom and my accomplice. They had been all simply as shocked and excited. It was an unbelievable second for me.

Fox Information: Inform us about your function as an analog astronaut.
Nance: I’m an astrophysicist and analog scientist. I accomplished an astronaut simulation. I lived as if I had been on Mars finishing a mission. I’m hopeful to make use of these abilities in the future and go to house. It’s my dream to go to house… One in all my greatest takeaways from that have is that I really like being in an setting the place I can depend on my staff and my crew to do analysis and make a distinction.

Sarafina Nance said her goal is to make STEM accessible to everyone.

Sarafina Nance stated her objective is to make STEM accessible to everybody.
(Courtesy of Sarahfina Nance)

Fox Information: When folks consider an astrophysicist or analog scientist, some might not immediately suppose “SI Swimsuit mannequin.” How do you hope to vary that public notion?
Nance: One of many greatest hurdles I’ve needed to overcome particularly in STEM is overcoming the sensation of not becoming in. I’m not only a girl, however I’m a girl of coloration in a predominately White male house. There are many stereotypes and expectations that come together with that identification and that function. I’ve realized the worth of illustration. I’ve understood the significance of my presence and being vocal, not only for myself, however for future generations of ladies in STEM. I didn’t have that illustration rising up. It’s my objective to offer that for others.


Sarafina Nance chose to have a preventative double mastectomy at age 26 to lower her extremely high risk of breast cancer (87%).

Sarafina Nance selected to have a preventative double mastectomy at age 26 to decrease her extraordinarily excessive danger of breast most cancers (87%).
(Courtesy of Sarafina Nance)

I feel a platform like SI is so highly effective as a result of it reveals that ladies don’t must be put into bins. We don’t must be only one factor. We might be multi-hyphenate people with completely different pursuits and completely different passions. Somewhat than taking away from one another, they will increase one another. To me, that really speaks to the ability of ladies and what we are able to obtain, what we are able to dream. I hope that when somebody sees somebody like me within the journal, they’ll go, “Wow, I don’t must restrict myself. I don’t must fall aware about folks’s expectations as a result of they suppose I needs to be a sure means or act a sure means. I might be no matter I need to be.”

Fox Information: As somebody with a preventative double mastectomy, has the journal embraced you?
Nance: Completely. My shoot within the Dominican Republic was some of the highly effective experiences in my life, palms down. I didn’t know what to anticipate. I don’t come from a modeling background. I used to be nervous about feeling misplaced and self-conscious about my physique. However I’ve by no means felt so empowered and embraced for who I’m. I’ve by no means felt so supportive. I used to be puffed up by your complete SI staff, the finalists – everybody. They had been all so excited and genuinely pleased that I used to be there. My physique is completely different, however I nonetheless felt liked and supported.

Fox Information: What was your response if you noticed these photographs?
Nance: I used to be shocked. It’s such an empowering expertise to see your self by way of that lens. SI doesn’t attempt to make you be something or anybody else. I used to be so nervous your complete time, however the pictures don’t present that. It was a magical expertise.

Sarafina Nance hopes her photo in SI Swimsuit will inspire other women to celebrate their bodies.

Sarafina Nance hopes her picture in SI Swimsuit will encourage different ladies to have a good time their our bodies.
(Courtesy of Sarafina Nance)

Fox Information: What would it not imply so that you can win the SI Swim Search?
Nance: I don’t even have the phrases *laughs*. It will be an unbelievable honor. It’s already an honor, whether or not I win or not. One of the vital thrilling components of this entire course of was getting the prospect to go to the Dominican Republic and meet all of those superb ladies. These are advocates and leaders of their communities. And I’m now part of that group. I feel this expertise has actually paved the best way for me to share my story like by no means earlier than. This can be a platform the place all beauties and backgrounds are showcased and celebrated.


Fox Information: How has the expertise modified your life to date?
Nance: For starters, I’ve met an unbelievable neighborhood of individuals. It’s a sisterhood, one which I’m grateful for. They instantly modified my life. One of many ladies and I’ve turn into extremely shut. It’s so thrilling to have these conversations about our experiences and the way we hope to vary the world. That alone has been invaluable.

Sarafina Nance dreams of heading to space.

Sarafina Nance desires of heading to house.
(Courtesy of Sarafina Nance)

Fox Information: What do you hope readers will get after they see your pictures for the primary time?
Nance: You recognize, I take into consideration once I was rising up. I didn’t see ladies like me in science, in magazines, and even on TV. I by no means felt that the illustration was there for me. Now, I hope folks can see themselves in me. I hope they really feel inspired to do no matter they want. I hope after they see me, they’ll go, “I can try this.” I hope they will obtain no matter their dream is. It’s all attainable. I did it.

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