Modelling used to be a way of making a living for Canadian Elizaveta Bulokhova. Now, it’s a way of making a difference.
After losing part of her jaw to a rare type of bone cancer, the model, now 25, returned to the spotlight this year to shoot a series of inspiring images that show off her scars from her reconstructive surgery. The photos quickly went viral, much to her surprise.
“To be honest I didn’t know what to expect, I just hoped it would help others to feel comfortable in their own skin and not to give up when life hits the fan,” says Bulokhova, who found out she had osteosarcoma when she was pregnant with her son, Valentin. (She was able to postpone chemotherapy until she could deliver him safely.) Valentin, who turns one in December, even makes a cameo in some of the images. “[The response from people] makes me feel really special and thankful to everyone who supports me and my family…Social media connects people, shows we are not alone.”
In fact, social media brought about the collabo. After an eight-month hiatus from social media during her sickness, Bulokhova posted a photo of herself, her partner and their son on Facebook. Photographer Manolo Ceron saw the image and suggested the shoot. Now, they are now raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society. Was Bulokhova nervous to step in front of the camera again? “Only a bit because I had to learn my new angles,” she says.
Otherwise, “my cancer taught me to love myself the way I am,” she says. “All your imperfections become perfect to you. The scars. The hairless body, they all remind you how strong you are.”
And how beautiful.