The blonde bombshell on the cover of Sunday Style magazine in Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper yesterday could blow more than a few Hollywood hotties out of the water.
But appearances are often deceptive – not the bombshell’s appearance, I hasten to add, but the extraordinary story behind it.
Ten years ago on November 19, Lauren Huxley (pictured at top before her devastating injuries) was left for dead by a random attacker in the garage of her Sydney home.
Robert Farmer, now serving a life sentence, had bashed the 18-year-old student around the head and face with a hammer and then tried to set the garage alight to obliterate evidence of his crime.
She fought for her life in hospital for months. The injuries to Lauren’s head were so deep a nurse told her Mum, Christine: “I don’t like her chances.”
But with Lauren’s grit and her family’s love and determination she survived – then the next gruelling ordeal began: her rehabilitation from devastating injuries and their consequences, physically and emotionally.
Lauren had to learn to walk, talk, feed herself and re-learn the nuances of normal life all over again; a slow and painful process in every sense of the word for her and her loved ones.
For the purposes of this story I am going to focus on her aesthetic rehabilitation, which in turn has helped restore her confidence – let’s call is “sass”, as Nicki Belle and Helen Koi (more of them in a moment) do – and zeal for life.
Procedures such as dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections (a descriptive which does not do the many benefits of neurotoxins such as Botox justice) are often dismissed as vanity fare. Yet they can be profound life changers.
I met Lauren nearly five years ago at the Face Today clinic in Sydney’s Chatswood, mid-way through her “rebirth”; the subject of a story I was doing for a website I edited at the time.
Internationally renowned cosmetic injector Nicki Belle RN and her business partner and general manager Helen Koi had taken Lauren, parents Christine and Pat, and sister Simone under their wing a couple of years previously as a number of major reconstructive plastic surgery operations had done all the incredible magic they could do.
Yet Lauren was still left with scarring and a lopsided face, especially her smile – nerve damage from her injuries, combined with muscle wasting as a result, which had a debilitating impact on her self esteem above and beyond what she had already suffered.
Plastic surgeon Dr Paul O’Keeffe referred her to Face Today, where Nicki and Helen conduct a considerable amount of pro-bono work for people with facial disfigurements, in part facilitated by the companies who supply them with dermal fillers and neurotoxins – without fanfare.
When I met Lauren she about to start her first job, for a bank in the city. She was also dating her first boyfriend since the attack.
She was still fragile – at points in the interview she would become very emotional, as in subsequent TV coverage the story generated – but it was clear she was improving physically and emotionally every day in every way.
According to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph/Sunday Style, Lauren still “works for a bank in the city and has had a few serious relationships – one for a year with a gentleman she met on Tinder – and is saving to buy a property. She loves to travel, dance and shop.
“She can’t remember the attack and doesn’t dwell on what it cost her: `I am always so busy. Time flies, it goes so fast. I am trying to make the most of being young, still in my 20s, while I have the time’.”
A gutsy girl is Lauren, and amazing folks, her family. Not to mention the medical team who went above and beyond to help make this some kind of miracle happen.