As the child of two models, Pamela Cook and Robert Wasserburger, growing up in California in the early 1990s, my world up until that point had been defined by rare beauty. I was surrounded by the faces of the time: Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell. In hindsight, I realise how unusual my childhood was, but back then it was all I knew. It wasn’t long before I started to follow in my parents’ footsteps: I booked my first modelling job at just two-months-old, alongside my mother in Italian Vogue. But as I got older, I found a passion for athletics, too – basketball was my true love. Everything I wanted, I was continually told, was at my fingertips.
And so when I woke up from a medically induced coma in that Santa Monica hospital room one day in early October 2012, in excruciating pain, it wasn’t just that I was unrecognisable: I had been stripped of my entire identity, of the beauty and body that, I thought then, had made me me. I had been found unresponsive at home, having suffered a fever of almost 42C, my kidneys failing. I had had two heart attacks and was given just a one per cent chance of survival. When I came round a week-and-a-half later, after being placed on life support, I was pumped full of fluid, I weighed 200 pounds, my hair was so matted that my head had been shaved, and my legs were black with gangrene. It was only when I overheard a nurse saying they would need to amputate a young woman that I realised she was talking about me.
I left hospital three months later in a wheelchair and back at home, shell-shocked, tried to come to terms with my new