It’s always tragic whenever anyone is diagnosed with cancer. It’s especially tragic when it happens to someone who is so young, and so full of promise and life.
This was the case for a young Canadian model by the name of Elizaveta Bulokhova. At 24, she seemed to have the world at her feet. She was settled, getting regular work as a model, and had been following this career path for 7 years already.
It came as a complete shock when she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, which is also known as bone cancer. It is a rare type of cancer, which in Elizaveta’s case manifested in her jaw, which is even more rare. The condition causes constant painful swelling that will not cease even with use of painkillers. Often, people mistake it with some kind of oral infection, and it therefore can go undiagnosed.
On a trip to Amsterdam in 2014, Elizaveta noticed that the right side of her jaw was extremely swollen, and that she had a great deal of pain in that area of her face. She figured that it was some kind of toothache, possibly brought on by the stress of flying, and thought nothing more of it.
However, as the weeks went on, the pain didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. Elizaveta realised that something was wrong, and, thankfully, sought medical attention in time.
Elizaveta was obviously extremely anxious to get her results back. After several biopsies and CT scans, it was determined that Bulokhova had a rare form of osteosarcoma. She was informed by doctors that the only way she could survive the cancer was to have part of her jaw removed before the cancer spread further.
This news would be devastating for anyone to hear, but was particularly devastating for the young woman, because she had been working as a model for seven years. She walked down runways and worked as a fashion model all over the world. Now, she wondered what the surgical procedure would have upon her body, her self-esteem, and her career that she had worked so hard to build up.
The news got worse for Bulokhova. At the time that she was diagnosed, she was also pregnant with her first child. To make things worse, the doctors informed her that after the surgery was complete, she would have to terminate her unborn child due to the effect it would have had on the unborn foetus.
Elizaveta was in her second trimester, but the five rounds of chemotherapy she would require made it impossible to have the child. She told Vice that she would talk to her baby every night and even told him to stop moving because she knew she couldn’t keep him. How heartbreaking.
The surgery went ahead, and doctors at the University Health Network successfully removed 95 percent of her jaw in October of the same year of the diagnosis. The surgery took a total of 16 hours, and involved moving the tumor first before removing her jaw. To reconstruct her jaw, they used fibula, veins, nerves and skin grafts from both her shoulders.
Bulokhova had several follow-up procedures which included placing a titanium plate and bone from her right leg to rebuild the jawbone. Doctors used skin tissue from her arm, leg, hip, and shoulder in order to recreate her mouth and lips.
She had been through so much heartache in her young life, but this is where things turned around for the young model and her family: at long last, there was good news.
Complications from the surgery delayed chemotherapy by about 10 weeks before her son was due. Two days before she was scheduled to abort the child, she asked doctors if it would be possible to deliver her son early. Doctors all agreed that it was safe to deliver her son early, so they did.
After giving birth and completing her remaining scheduled procedures, Elizaveta made a full recovery, and has never been happier. She continues to work as a model, and is a true inspiration to us all.
On her first project back as a model, she decided to work with Toronto photographer Manolo Ceron. Ceron wanted to focus on the strength and resilience of Bulokhova. He captured these qualities beautifully. Just look at these amazing pictures!
This young lady is a testament to the power of personal strength and resilience. It also demonstrates the wonders of modern medicine – it is incredible that they were able to do. Not only did they cure her cancer, but they gave her back her identity and her life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this heartwarming news story. Don’t forget to share to brighten someone’s day!