Location: Oklahoma, USA
Date Of Injury: April 27, 1988
I grew up in rural Oklahoma. At the age of seven I was critically injured in a motorcycle accident on a nearby country road. The tragic accident claimed the life of my nine-year old brother. I sustained third degree burns spanning 87% of my body, as well as internal damage to my aorta. Doctors calculated a 140% chance of me dying! Defying all odds lived to tell my story; a story about God’s goodness in the midst of storms.
I remember one time referring to myself as a burn victim when I was about eight or nine. I just repeated what I had always heard, not understanding the label. My Dad said, “I thought you always saw yourself as a survivor. Victims die. You didn’t.” I felt like he gave me a superhero cape that day – I was a burn survivor!!!
My Dad passed away ten years ago, but his voice still echoes today, when I present to nursing students. I always incorporate that story and I try to make them very mindful that there are burn patients, unfortunately there are burn victims, but those who live are burn survivors. I ask them to help patients find identity in that label. It’s empowering.
Having grown up with medical outcomes that I may never walk again or that I may never have children, but I did both! It goes to show that no circumstance is too bleak and no label is too despairing for God’s hand to be at work.
Today I use my story to help spread a message of victory in my work as a nurse, writer and public speaker. To this day I live on the land I grew up on with my husband Brandon and my four children.
Thanks so much for helping me share my story with the Burn Survivor Community.
See Heather’s story on YouTube click HERE.