LIFESTYLE

Cancer Survivor, Angelica Fenney, Flaunts Scars In Inspirational Nude Photoshoot: 'We Aren't All Amazonian Barbie Clones'

30/07/2015 11:30 BST | Updated 30/07/2015 11:59 BST

Angelica Fenney battled cancer for 20 years, and won. Now, the plus size model has posed nude for a photo shoot in order to stick two fingers up to the disease.

Fenney, who has put on six stone as a result of cancer treatment, said she's refusing to hide away.

“The photoshoot was my way of saying ‘f**k you to cancer,” she said, explaining how she turned to Velvet d'Amour of VOLUP2 Magazine to take the sexy pictures.

“I was 17 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then I’ve battled cervical and skin cancer. If I want to pose for a glamour shoot, I will.”

angelica fenney

Fenney said she felt fabulous as a plus sized model.

“I’m proof there is life after illness. My confidence hit rock bottom when my body was ravaged by 20 years of gruelling treatment," she said.

“But then I realised I was alive. Who cares about a few scars?”

Fenney, of St Helens, Merseyside, added: “This is my triumphant comeback to modelling.

“I’m covered in scars from various cancer-treating operations. I also gained around six stone over the years due to both side effects from medication and comfort eating.

“For a long time, I wouldn’t let anybody take my photo. I felt disgusting.

“But then, something in me snapped and I realised I needed to change my attitude and the way I thought about myself and decided to return to modelling.”

Fenney was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 17. Then, in 1995 she was placed on a trial of a drug called Tamoxifen.

A photo posted by Angelica (@angelicafenney) on


She also began to model with agency Models of Diversity in a bid to show the world the disease had not beaten her.

But 10 years after her battle with breast cancer, she learned she had cervical cancer.

Though hotly disputed within the medical community, some studies have suggested prolonged use of Tamoxifen could lead to the development other types of cancer, which Fenney believes may have happened in her case.

“I’ll never know for sure, but I believe I’m in the tiny percentage of people that can develop other cancers after using Tamoxifen,” she said.

“I was given a 40% chance of surviving cervical cancer. All I could think was: ‘how can this be happening again?’”

Fenney made the difficult decision to undergo a full life-saving hysterectomy meaning, at just 27 years of age, she was forced to accept that she will never have children.

Sadly, due to her unstable health, adoption is not an option for her either.

“All I’d ever wanted was to be a mother. After the hysterectomy, I hit rock bottom,” she said.

“My confidence was non-existent and I fell into a deep depression. I kept wishing I’d had children when I was younger. I felt like I’d been robbed of everything I wanted to be.”

A photo posted by Angelica (@angelicafenney) on


Struggling to cope with her lost chance of motherhood, Fenney began to comfort eat.

She also out on weight as a side effect to hormones she was taking following her hysterectomy.

Previously a size 14, she gained almost six stone and at her heaviest, she was wearing a size 26.

But in 2014, Fenney decided to “take [her] life back” and threw herself into a fitness regime, hitting the gym seven days a week.

On one occasion, she remembers attending five spin classes in 24 hours.

She began to upload post-workout photographs to her social media accounts to show the world how hard she was working.

She also recruited the help of personal trainer friends Kim Oneale and Karen Jarvis.

Spurred on by encouraging comments from best friend and founder of Models of Diversity Angel Sinclair, Fenney has shed four stone since January this year.

“Throughout the cancer, Angel has been my rock. She was the one on the other end of the phone when I was crying at 3am. She’s amazing,” said Fenney.

“I’ve always been a naturally big girl, so going to the gym wasn’t about getting stick thin but about being happy in my own skin again.

“I remember after one spin class, a woman came up to me and said: ‘for a fat girl, you can’t half move,’ and I thought: ‘I’ll show you what a fat girl can do,’ and started working harder and harder.”

The final hurdle for Fenney to overcome in her bid to restore her self-esteem was resurrecting her modelling career, which she did by posing for a nude photoshoot in February 2015.

Just weeks later, she was dealt a devastating blow when doctors discovered she had developed skin cancer on her face.

She underwent surgery to remove the affected area, leaving her with a scar on her cheek.

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Fenney also has scars on her stomach from her hysterectomy and on her breasts, from where surgeons removed and reconstructed her left nipple.

But she refuses to let her confidence be shattered once again.

She has walked in three catwalk shows since posing for her comeback shoot, her first being Alternative Fashion Week, the brainchild of Jane Bellis, who has worked as a hair and makeup artist for almost 20 years.

She has several more in the pipeline, and plans to go on tour with Alternative Fashion Week later this year.

“After everything I’ve been through, I wanted to take back control of my body,” said Fenney.

“Models of Diversity prove it’s okay that we don’t all look the same – beauty comes in different forms, and everybody has the right to walk the streets and be who they are without judgement.

“We aren't all Amazonian Barbie clones but that doesn't mean we're not damned beautiful.

“I’ve learned that everybody has problems and bouts of bad luck, but we need them to make ourselves stronger and inspire us to go out there and get what we want from life.”

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