ANIMALS
FUNNY
INSPIRING
LIFESTYLE
NEWS
PARENTING
RELATIONSHIPS
SCIENCE AND NATURE
WHOLESOME
WORK
Contact Us Privacy Policy Cookie Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Astrophysicist shares inspiring journey of modeling for Sports Illustrated after her double mastectomy

She is delving into the challenges she has faced and the passion that fuels her love for the stars.

Astrophysicist shares inspiring journey of modeling for Sports Illustrated after her double mastectomy
Image Source: Instagram | @starstrickensf

Prepare to be amazed by the incredible story of Sarafina El-Badry Nance, a trailblazing astrophysicist and swimsuit model. As Nance's new book, "Starstruck" hit the bookstores on June 6, she discussed her life and its challenges in an interview with TODAY. Her love for stars began when she was a little girl as she stargazed with her dad in Texas. "I love feeling small and I love asking questions about our universe," Nance told TODAY.

"I was always tied to astronomy. It was always something that I wanted to continue to learn about and dive into and explore," she added. "I knew that I wanted to continue and devote the rest of my life to studying the stars."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sarafina El-Badry Nance (@starstrickensf)


 

She said, "I knew that I wanted to continue and devote the rest of my life to studying the stars." Many years later, she became an analog astronaut and she lived in a Mars simulation. "I hope that will get me one step closer to going to space," she said. Nance is about to complete her Ph.D. in astrophysics by the end of 2023.

She also learned how it is not a smooth path for women of color. "There are not a lot of women in astronomy and in physics in general and that’s a really difficult (and) isolating," she explained. "There's so much that contributes to someone feeling like they don’t belong, implicit and explicit messages. That sort of mounts until it becomes unbearable and people leave, so I had to push past those boundaries and those messages over and over."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sarafina El-Badry Nance (@starstrickensf)


 

She is grateful to her community for their support in her journey. Nance further realized the value of life as she had the cancer-causing mutated BRCA2 gene. "I learned that I had an elevated risk of breast cancer as high as 87% and an elevated risk of ovarian cancer (around 30%)," she rexalled. When she turned 25, she was told that she would need breast screenings in every six months. "For me that was untenable," she said. "I couldn’t imagine living my life constantly reactive and scared that something would pop up."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sarafina El-Badry Nance (@starstrickensf)


 

She also has a history of cancer in her family. Therefore, she underwent a preventative double mastectomy that decreased the risk of cancer from 87% to 5%. "I knew that that was the right course of action for me. It really was a no-brainer," she said. "It wasn’t a fear-based decision. It was an empowering decision."

After her mastectomy was over, she shared this experience to uplift other women in STEM as Nance made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. "I think that the stereotypes of what a scientist looks like and what a body of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model looks like is embedded in my mind, in everybody’s minds," she said.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sarafina El-Badry Nance (@starstrickensf)


 

"I think there’s something deeply profound about having to come back into yourself," she continued. "I never thought (my application) would go anywhere, but it was recognizing in myself I can do this. It was so empowering. I got to embrace my body in a way that I hadn’t gotten to post-surgery," she said.

More Stories on Upworthy