There are all kinds of cancer, but osteosarcoma, bone cancer, is one of the rarest to get and most difficult to cure. And one model had it in her jaw – this is her story.
Usually, bone cancer starts manifesting itself with a painful swelling of the bone that just becomes more and more painful and difficult to live with. And that’s exactly how Elizaveta Bulokhova, a Canadian model, felt one day back in 2014 (courtesy of VT). She was in Amsterdam with her boyfriend Roman Trubetskoi, when she noticed that the right side of her face felt tender and swollen. Upon further inspection and a lot of medical examinations, the diagnose was bone cancer – in her jaw.
And the solution came soon after. It was, one might say, morbidly simple. Remove the jaw and you’ll live – but keep it and face an early death. Being a model, whose livelihood depended on her good looks, Elizaveta was facing a difficult choice. But that was not all – the Latvian-born model was also pregnant with a child, she was in her second trimester. But the five rounds of chemotherapy would surely kill the baby.
“He was very active and I would talk to him often while he was in my womb,” Elizaveta told Vice. “I had to tell him to stop moving because I couldn’t keep him and then all of a sudden he did. He listened; he stopped moving.”
But, the surgeries would come first, long before the chemotherapy. In October of 2014, the University Health Network doctors removed 95% of her jaw in a complex surgical operation that lasted 16 hours.
This was her then:
But it wasn’t enough – more operations soon followed, using a combination of bone sourced from her legs. They also reconstructed parts of her face and lips using veins, nerves, skin grafts and pieces of bone from her shoulders.
There was a silver lining, however: the complicated surgeries delayed the chemotherapy for 10 weeks, which was just enough time for her to give birth to her son.
“It was f**ked up,” she explains. “We basically had to tell the doctors to kill our perfectly healthy baby, but we had no choice. … Then, with Valentin [her son] being nearly 28 weeks, we asked doctors where that put him. ‘Is it safe to deliver him?’ They said, ‘Absolutely, let’s do this.'”
But how is she today? Healthy, had her child, and still looking pretty good! Check out the photos she did with Manolo Ceron, a photographer based in Toronto, just two months after the ordeals ended.
This is her now:
Her eyes tell a story of struggle and victory.
The photoshoot aimed at highlighting the changes she went through:
While the model sports scars from her battle with cancer, her hair is regrowing again after all the chemo.
And here she is, with her son Valentin:
And they are beautiful!
The model said the photo shoot made her feel better about the entire situation: “To do what I love the most, it made me so happy.” And, while her modeling career is most likely over, she doesn’t seem concerned. After all, she’s a winner: she beat cancer, saved her baby, and is perfectly content with that.
Keep winning, Elizaveta!