31 May 2024

Lip fillers saved my life: Edita’s CML story

Millions of people around the world have had lip fillers, but how many can say having the aesthetic treatments actually saved their life? 

Edita nowadays

Edita Jucaite works as a dental nurse in Banbury, Oxfordshire. At the end of April 2023 she was acting as a model for her dentist colleague who was learning how to do aesthetics injections under highly experienced trainer dentist Dr Brian Franks. 

Dr Brian Franks

Edita had successfully had both botulinum toxin and dermal fillers before.  

“On this occasion I had the botulinum toxin between my eyebrows and on my forehead with no problem,” said Edita, 36, who lives in Banbury, Oxfordshire. “Then when the dermal filler went into my lip it immediately swelled up. Dr Franks and his colleague were concerned and said they wanted me to see my doctor. What I hadn’t mentioned before we started was that I had bruises elsewhere on my body, which hadn’t been caused by me knocking into something.” 

“The trainee was treating Edita’s upper lip and had applied a small amount of filler to the border of the lip,” said Dr Franks. “But after massaging, a swelling and bruising appeared on the left side of the body (main part) of the lip. This was a consequence of treatment I had personally not encountered before. It appeared rather abnormal that the swelling occurred in a site and position of the lip not associated with the injection site.  My first thought was that perhaps too vigorous massaging had caused this, but on reflection the amount of massage and the appearance made me question whether this was the sole cause.  

“We ended the treatment session at that point. On further questioning Edita then disclosed that she did bruise rather easily and revealed some previous bruising on other parts of her body. I advised her that she should seek a medical opinion.” 

“I said yeah yeah with no intention of going but the next day a large bruise had spread outside my lip and on the inside of my mouth,” said Edita. “I was at work as normal and another colleague, who’d lost her sister to cancer, insisted that I ring my GP. She said she’d also noticed I was losing weight, which I hadn’t been trying to, and she was worried.” 

Edita’s bruising on her lip

The bruising and swelling on her lip vanished after around three days but Edita did some googling and found her symptoms potentially pointed to leukaemia. So, she booked an appointment with her GP for a blood test – even joking to the receptionist on the phone that she thought she might have blood cancer 

“The blood test was done in the morning and by 3pm they called me. I was at work and the doctor told me they thought I might have leukaemia and needed to go straight to hospital. It was awful, such a shock, I burst into tears. I couldn’t hear or think of anything else apart from the fact I might die.” 

Her boyfriend arrived and took Edita straight to Churchill Hospital in Oxford where on 18th May 2023 Edita was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). 

“The consultant said it was most common in men over the age of 65 so I was very unusual. But he gave me lots of reassurance that it was a chronic condition, it was treatable and that I was not going to die. My white blood cells were very high – around the 250 mark whereas they should have been at 10. They started me on chemotherapy tablets immediately, and for the next week I was at home but had to go to hospital every day for tests to see if my blood count was coming down. Once I was stable I was changed on to the drug Imatinib which I will be on for life.” 

After a month of treatment, and just a week off work, Edita’s bruising disappeared. 

“The chemo tablet made me feel weak and tired but not for long. My colleagues were amazing and really looked after me, letting me go for a nap at lunchtime. I used to drink lots of energy drinks, so I may well have been tired before I was diagnosed but had no idea! I take better care of myself now and try and stay healthy.” 

This case highlights two things that anyone administering aesthetic treatments should take note of,” said Dr Franks. “Firstly, the vital importance of ensuring patients disclose full information regarding their medical history before treatment. And secondly that practitioners need to be aware that unusual reactions can be a sign of other systemic disease, like leukaemia, and should strongly advise their patients to visit their GPs.” 

Edita nowadays

“Not many people can say having lip fillers saved their life, but I can,” said Edita. “If Dr Franks and my colleague hadn’t seen the swelling on my lip for themselves and pushed me to go to the doctor, I would have put it off and put it off, and the consultant said that would have meant it would have been so much harder to treat. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think ‘I have cancer’. But it’s just like people with diabetes or another medical condition where they need to take medication for life, but everything will be OK. I’m so grateful that I had that reaction to my treatment, which ended up saving my life.”

Learn about the signs and symptoms of leukaemia.

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