Lenka Dayrit is proof that you should never judge a book by its cover. As a Yogi and devout vegetarian, a model and aspiring actress, Lenka has come a long way since her days as a little girl in the Czech Republic. Her porcelain doll-looks and brunette locks may be perfect for the runway and magazine ads, but as a woman in her twenties, she's experienced more in her life than those twice her age.
Travelling the world and posing for famous photographers in couture clothing seems like an enviable career, but Lenka's life hasn't always been so glamorous.
After being diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, Lenka's life took a turn she never expected. With the cancer now in remission, she knows how lucky she is, and never takes it for granted. We were lucky enough to sit down with the humble brunette and what we got out of the interview was far more than we expected.
Check it all out in our exclusive below...
GlobalGrind: We heard your journey as a model hasn't been the typical one. You've dealt with some serious health issues.
Lenka Dayrit: Yes, I had Leukemia.
What was that whole journey like for you?
It started three years ago. I was very tired all the time and I couldn't catch my breath. I was bruising up very easily, there was a point in which I was so bruised that my friends thought my ex-husband was actually abusive towards me. My ex-stepmom knew it was not normal and decided to take me to the emergency. We went there and they did simple blood work and when the results came back, it showed I had almost no platelets, that I had such a low level of platelets that there was such a big risk of me dying of internal bleeding, even if I just hit my stomach slightly. They did more tests, bone marrow testing, where they take some out of your hip bone, it's very painful.
Where were you when all of this was going on?
I was actually treated at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey. I like to mention them a lot because from the nurses to the doctors, they were all absolutely amazing; those people saved my life.
My best friend died of leukemia five years ago. I went through it with her so I kind of already knew what was going on. So three days after I was tested, my bone marrow test came back positive. I remember that day when the doctor came back and he had diagnosed me. He left the room and I couldn't stop crying.
What were your thoughts?
I mean the typical thoughts, 'Why is this happening to me, what did I ever do wrong?' the normal questions. I even remember crying for one hour, after that one hour I thought, 'If I want to survive this, I have to pull myself together, I have to be positive,' because only through the positive mind can your body get stronger and survive.
I swore to myself from that moment on, I’d never cry, not because of my illness. I have been through six chemotherapies. I remember Patrick Swayze saying, “Chemotherapy is hell on wheels.” He was right. It's the moments when you are really sick and you're going through a lot of pain that make it hard.
Was there ever a moment when you thought you were going to die?
There was one moment when I went through the sixth session of chemotherapy, every chemotherapy weakens up your system, the sixth one was really harsh. There was a moment where the pain came and I literally passed out and I had that out-of-body experience when I could see the nurses running in the room and doctors reviving me, but I came back.
How long did you have the cancer for?
The whole treatment altogether was around six to seven months. I've been in remission for three years this past February.
Is it hard for you to talk about it, are you secretive about it, or do you like to share your story?
I like to share my story because I believe that a lot of people who get diagnosed get very sad, very depressed, and a lot of the time they let the depression take over. They have to understand that it's not the end of the world, that if you're positive you can fight through it, that you can survive it, but you really have to stay positive.
I like to talk about it so I can show people that are sick now or are going through what I went though, that I did, I won the battle, and I’m healthy. I’m active again and my life is back to normal. I just want to show them if I could do it then they can do it, too.
Was there ever a moment you felt that kind of depression you mention?
The first hour, and that's it. I just realized this is life and that I think each one of us is going to experience something terrible in our lives, whether it's being sick or losing someone you love. Everybody gets through something in life.
So how has this changed your life since you've been in remission?
I think it changed me in a very positive way. If I could turn back time of course I wouldn't want to go through it again, but at the same time before I was sick I would have those moments where I would be complaining. Like my photo shoot was taking too much time, I’m tired, it's too cold, etc. Ever since I went through all of this I’m just so thankful to be alive that all these little problems, these little complaints, just don't exist anymore. I’m just so happy to be here to experience everyday and meet these amazing people.