Dan's Fund for Burns :: Need some help? :: Survivors stories
Message from Polly Miller, founder & Director of Dan's Fund for Burns...
Since I’ve been burnt I have had the pleasure of meeting many other Burn Survivors who are courageous, kind, sympathetic and simply amazing people. I have been lucky enough to meet them through a support group set up, with the help of Dan’s Fund For Burns, at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London and through the internet and this website.
Here is a selection of their stories from Polly:
A Story from Burns Survivor, Mary, in the Ukraine
A rehabilitation after burns
I received 35% body burns in June 2015 in an accident, resulting in having to spend five months in hospital. I am now out of hospital and trying to get fit and sporty again.
For a long time I couldn't go outside with friends - I just looked out of the window and tried to remember something pleasant, The Carpathian; the place I would like to be this year, but I can’t right now.
I'm not a professional adventurer but last spring, before the accident, I had an opportunity to try backpacking. I decided to take part in a competition with my mates. Our team was called “Temp” and we spent a marvelous week (actually a little bit less than a week) in the mountains. It seemed to be hard to walk for almost 12 hours a day, up and down, and it really was, but the places we made it to were truly unforgettable - Breathtaking views!
That feeling when you stand at the top of a mountain, look around and think something like, “Hell, I’ve done it!” and still can’t believe in your own ability. Being amateurs, we didn’t try to finish fast, and it would have been strange if we did, because the other teams were filled with people who lived near the mountains and were used to this sort of challenge and found this trip a breeze. As for us, we preferred to pitch a tent and sleep in it all day… Just kidding!
We did our best to reach all the checkpoints, take a lot of pictures and we tried to make our route mentally easier with jokes and funny moments. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind to us, long bouts of rain, so we had to go straight to the finish. In summary, we made 8 checkpoints, which is the half of the whole route. About 62 miles were walked. More than 7 kg of food was eaten. And the uncountable number of different emotions has been placed in our minds for ages.
In terms of my burns, despite the fact I have some problems after that, I will never give up. I don’t feel like a victim and I don’t want to call myself a victim. I live my life and want to be as active as I have been before the injury. Even more active, I guess.
Someday I will go back to the Carpathians. I do really want to live every moment there anew.
Katie Piper and her amazing recovery
Katie Piper was young and beautiful; a model and budding TV presenter, the 24-year-old had a glowing future ahead of her. But on 31st March 2008 a vicious acid attack destroyed her face – and with it her career and life as she knew it. More than a year on, and having undergone countless operations and rounds of physiotherapy, Katie has now chosen to give up her anonymity and tell her own story for the first time.
To read her story follow this link >>>
How I Reached My Dream - Lauren Allcoat
When I was 8 months old I poured a kettle over myself and suffered with 3rd degree burns to 30 - 35% of my body. I have scarring to my stomach, one side of my chest, underside of my left arm and the top of my right leg. I had operations every two years up to the age of 16, including skin grafts. I was treated at Nottingham Burns Unit and then further to my parents moving to Scotland
received more treatment at Dundee Burns Unit.
From a very young age I had aspirations to get into the Police Force or the Army as a military police officer. At 24 I finally got the opportunity to apply for both. However, having looked into the application process, both included medicals for which I immediately thought I was going to be failed because of my scarring. At this point I contacted Dan's Fund for Burns and spoke to Joy, who was incredibly helpful, although not knowing whether the scars would affect my application she put my mind at rest.
I went through a lengthy medical process with the Army for which my whole medical history was sent off to their medical centre and awaited their decision. I got accepted for continuation into the selection process where a further medical was carried out. Finally after a 4 hour examination I was the given the all clear. This was an amazing feeling and I realised then that I could achieve anything I wanted to in life, despite everything that had happened.
I passed selection with a high grade B and was due to go in on the 10th June 2010, but having also completed the application process for the Police I was accepted and given a start date of October 2010. As this had been my childhood dream I held out for the police and started my training in October. I have now been in the Police Force for 10 months and I absolutely love it.
For anyone who has been burned or has a family member who has suffered I just want you to know that dreams and aspirations should never be just that. I was bullied severely as a child due to my scarring and believe me, there is not a better feeling than being able to show those bullies now what I've achieved. People have said over the years that my scars make me who I am and I wouldn't be who I am today without them; I truly believe this and have learnt not to be bitter about it. Life's too short and I now know that absolutely everything can be achieved if you put your mind to it and really want it.
Katherine Jones Ė The Dangers of Candles
Our last Newsletter reported the case of an individual burned by tea lights Ė following is Katherine's own story:
I was severely burnt when my clothing caught fire at a friend's party where tea light candles had been scattered around the room and on the ledge of the balcony. I was standing on the balcony chatting to a friend when I started to feel a little hot, before I had time to step away from the ledge the bottom of my top had caught alight and I was quickly engulfed in flames.
I suffered 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns covering my back and left and right arms, totalling 10% of my body. The burns were the worst on the left hand side as that's the side the flame had started. After 3 months at home with many sleepless nights, hospital visits and operations, I finally returned to work. During my time off I contacted Dan's Fund for Burns who offered some advice and counselling, which helped me to rebuild my confidence.
Although I am still undergoing treatment and skin grafting I was determined that I would run the London Marathon this year - 2009 - and I did!!!, raising over £2,000 for DFFB.
Let this be a lesson for us all when lighting candles - it's not to say that we can't enjoy them, but we should bear in mind that they should never be left as an open flame but instead housed within a container.
It's amazing how such a tiny candle can cause such a lot of damage.
Sue Thomson attends the Chelsea & Westminster support group
Sue is a lady who was badly burnt by a gas explosion in her flat 12 years ago. She suffered 40% burns to her face, back, hands and front and despite endless surgery and pain, she has the most fantastic outlook on life. I am pleased to say she was recently happily married and is keen to help others that have been burnt. In early 2011 Sue updated us with her life (now 18 years since she was burned) and with a new poem. Sue's life now includes a son and she is training to qualify as a Teachers Assistant and very much enjoying this activity in her sonís school.
Burns doesn't have to ruin your life,
Whoever thought that I would be married and somebody's wife.
About to embark on a teacher's assistant training course,
Just hope it doesn't end in me getting divorced!
The countless operations you go through,
The suffering, hurt and pain too.
Burns can alter your appearance and leave you with scars.
The one thing it can;t do is change who you really are.
It's a long hard, winding road and a huge struggle,
But there is always someone willing to pick you up and give you a cuddle.
There will be times when you want to be on your own.
Hide away from the world and think you are all alone.
It's about finding what works best for you.
Who knows what you could be or do.
Never let burns hold you back.
It's people like us the world needs and lacks.
Stand up strong push your chest out with pride...
Cause like a rollercoaster life is scary but a brilliant ride.
Polly says, "I've also had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Gavin, a chap burnt in an arson attack on his car several years ago.
Stephen, who is happily married with 2 kids, is the life and soul of any group, constantly cracking jokes, was kind enough to share with me his memories of after the event".
An extract of his writing is shown here but if you like to read the complete transcript simply follow this link >>>".
A Short Compilation of Words Written by a Burns Survivor
Burns a nasty subject, very painful and quite disfiguring, but not all is lost
Life goes on for us all.
I have had hard times since the accident but that won't stop me getting and being what I want in life, I won't let it.
This book is just a very small insight to my accident and life in hospital; I hope it can help some people to understand what burns victims have to go through.
We cannot change the opinions of the public those that frown at us, someone made a very good statement to me to help me with people staring,
"If you look at them then they will look at you"
To anybody I would say be strong do not let them get you down there is always tomorrow and live life to the full.
Michael Harding was a school boy at Christs Hospital School after the second World War, who met many of the wonderful burn survivors known as "Guinea Pigs" at their visits to Alfred Wraggs home where many of them enjoyed trips out from East Grinstead Hospital:
"During World War II many fighter pilots were shot down and burnt badly on their face and hands, and a lot of them were treated at East Grinstead Hospital, Kent, where I myself have had several operations. Adopted by the local community, these men became fondly known as the Guinea Pigs."
To read Michael Harding's own account of his recollections of the famous burns surgeon, Mr McIndoe, and the charitable works of the Wagg family at that time, simply follow this link >>>