Pat Cleveland

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Friends and relatives of the irrepressible model Pat Cleveland are rallying around her to help finance her treatment for colon cancer.

In less than 24 hours, 121 people had contributed nearly $44,000 toward the $150,000 GoFundMe initiative as of early this afternoon. Cleveland’s husband, Paul van Ravenstein, said Monday, “The community is so supportive. It is just amazing to see everybody reach out.”

After having some strange digestive issues over the last few months, Cleveland sought medical advice in New York. Cleveland helped to break racial barriers on the runways in the Sixties and Seventies. Unlike many of her peers, Cleveland continued to model through the years. Once fashion week got underway in February, she was busy in New York, and then off to Europe for the Laura Biagiotti and Missoni shows in Milan, followed by Tommy Hilfiger’s Zendaya show in Paris, her husband said. Earlier this month Cleveland made an appearance at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ opening for its Thierry Mugler exhibition.

About 10 days ago in Paris for her daughter Anna’s birthday and a hair show for L’Orèal, Cleveland sought medical attention due to increased discomfort, her husband said. When the consulting physician checked back with her the following day, he advised her to go to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent an operation on March 23. Anna Cleveland has been by her mother’s side throughout the ordeal, said van Ravenstein, who will fly to Paris Monday night.

“She has been slowly improving over the last week, so it’s a process. It’s a long process. They think they will release her from the hospital on April 8. But I don’t know if they will let her fly right away. So I am planning to stay with her in Paris through the end of the month to give her rest and strengthen her before flying back to America where she will have to do all the follow-up treatments,” he said.

At this point, it is not known what stage cancer Cleveland has. Lab results are expected Tuesday, her husband said. “I presume it did not go beyond the colon but I will have to speak with the doctor tomorrow.”

“This is coming out of left field. She’s healthy, she’s vegan. She doesn’t drink, she doesn’t smoke,” van Ravenstein said. “I thought we had her checked four or five years ago. But I went to the hospital here near our house and it seems the last time she was checked was in 2007. That’s too long. At a certain age, you have to do it every five years. Now I just want her back to her young self. She’s a very strong person so she’s going to be back. And I’m glad for that.”

Anna Cleveland has been living in Paris for the past several months and is performing in Jean Paul Gaultier’s “Fashion Freak Show” at the Folies Bergère. The fund-raising campaign is to cover the cost of Cleveland’s treatment and stay overseas, as well as anticipated further treatment once she returns to the U.S., her husband said. “I’m not sure what she will be facing here.”

Bombarded with calls and texts, van Ravenstein noted how she’s been in the industry for more than half a century. Her husband said, “She’s just the kindest person. She’s worked with everybody and she still inspires people every time. She paints, she writes, she makes outfits for herself. She’s very creative.”