Elizaveta Bulokhova, a 25-year-old canadian model was enjoying a successful modeling career and was pregnant when she got the devastating news that she had cancer.
She first noticed an inflammation on her jaw that became more painful. After undergoing three biopsy procedures, she was diagnosed with jaw osteosarcoma which is a cancer that starts at the bone. She was forced to undergo a series of intensive surgeries to remove it.
"My first surgery lasted 16 hours, with more follow up surgeries in the next several days. Surgeons used a fibula bone from my right leg, and nerve and skin tissue harvested from leg, arm, hip and shoulder [to perform reconstructive surgery on my jaw]," she said.
The recovery was very tough As her body was used to reconstruct her face she had scars all over her body.
"Since doctors used my body to reconstruct my face, I have to be thankful to my body for being strong and saving my life. My scars mean 'survival.' I love my scars. I think they are beautiful. They remind me not to give up, to take care, and to love myself," said Bulokhova.
As she was pregnant doctors asked her to terminate her pregnancy to undergo chemotherapy, but Bulokhova chose to wait, and was able to carry her child for enough time to have him safely delivered via C-section.
Recently Bulokhova celebrated her survival with a gorgeous new photo. Because she was so comfortable modeling before her surgeries, she had no issue stepping in front of the camera again.
"I just wanted to be myself again, to feel like nothing has changed, and to do what made me the happiest. My work was such a big part of my life that I enjoyed. This is a new me - I have nothing to hide. Cancer sucks, and it did play a big role in the way I look, but how I feel about myself is my choice. I choose to feel beautiful, and to love myself," she said after looking at her photographs.
She hopes that the photographs will inspire others to feel good about themselves. "Looks change but how we feel about ourselves is up to us. Why not choose to be happy and do what makes you happy?" she said.