Rachel Wisniewski’s beautiful looks hide an horrendous experience she went through as a teenager.
And you would never know the 19-year-old had to go through a series of gruelling operations to rebuild her face.
It was the surgery, she says, which helped give her the confidence to do what many young people her age would take for granted – going to university.
When Rachel was 13, she was the victim of a savage dog attack.
Rachel, from Warton, was mauled by a bull mastiff, which ripped off her lower lip and chin just before Christmas 2008.
She had been at a friend’s house in Freckleton, when the dog suddenly lunged at her.
Rachel, who was a pupil at Carr Hill High School, in Kirkham, suffered horrific facial injuries, and had to undergo more than 27 hours of surgery at Royal Preston Hospital to rebuild her face – including a skin graft from her arm to repair the damage.
If the dog had grabbed her a couple of inches lower, the attack could have proved fatal. The pet was destroyed by a vet at the owner’s request.
Rachel has since had further surgery, in London, including a chin implant.
She is now studying law at the University of Warwick.
Rachel, who was praised by her family and teachers for being “incredibly courageous” after the dog attack, said: “We were just standing there and the next thing the dog just lunged at me.
“I lost from my bottom lip to my chin area. I had to spend two weeks over Christmas in hospital and had to have four surgeries during that time, for reconstruction.
“I’ve had a few more surgeries since then, I had a chin implant and some lip reconstruction, to build my bottom lip back up.
“I’m pleased with the results of the surgery, I’m really happy with the way it looks.
“It has definitely helped boost my confidence.
“I think when I look back, before the surgery, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go to university. It took me a long time to go back into school after it happened.”
And now Rachel has set herself the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in September to raise money for Meningitis Research.
She said: “I wanted to set myself a personal challenge, but also do something to raise money and help others at the same time.
“Meningitis is something which affects a lot of young people, people my age and students.
“Since my accident, I’ve wanted to find a way to try to give something back.
“The medical staff were great and my family had so much support from people after the accident.
“My parents were overwhelmed by the support, so I felt it would be nice to do something for others.
“I’ve heard and read about young people and children who have lost limbs through meningitis.
“They are such an inspiration.
“What I went through is nowhere near as bad, but I do know about the struggle of thinking something isn’t going to get better – but it does get better.”
You can support Rachel’s efforts by visiting www.justgiving.com/Rachel-Wisniewski or texting RWIS80 followed by the amount you wish to donate (eg £5) to 70070.