“You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you.”

– Taylor Swift


Location: Boston, MA

Date Of Injury: March 24, 2004

I was only eight years old when my life took an unexpected turn that changed my life forever. On March 24th, 2004, the place I called home was engulfed in flames, and my siblings and I were trapped in our burning home. In the midst of the night, my siblings and I fought hard to find a way out, but out of the five of us, three didn’t make it, leaving only my older sister and I to survive. Fortunately, my older sister was able to make it out of the house in time without suffering from any physical injuries; I, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. Freshly burned skin covered the upper half of my body, and I was rushed to the hospital immediately. Due to the extent of my injury, I was placed into a medically induced coma for six weeks, which was only half of the time that I spent in the hospital for the initial burn injury. For years to come, I would undergo several extensive surgeries at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston to further the recovery process. At only eight years old, physical pain seemed to be a daily occurrence for me, which consisted of dressing changes, physical therapy, pressure garments, and so on. At such a young age, I had no idea what I did to deserve so much pain, but I carried on regardless of how much it hurt. As the years passed, the physical pain began to lessen, and the emotional trauma from the accident began to seep into my everyday life. I struggled with the loss of my siblings, with my appearance, and worst of all, bullying from members of everyday society, including adults. I couldn’t understand why people would be so mean towards a young child suffering from a severe injury, and eventually life started to become a daily struggle for me. I began to lose all confidence in myself because of the hurtful things that people would say. At only twelve years old, terrible thoughts flooded my mind: Will anyone ever love me? Will my scars look this bad forever? Will people ever stop staring at me or making awful comments? I felt so isolated from society and realized that I was living an extremely unhappy life by worrying about what people thought of me, and then one day I decided that I didn’t want to live a life that I had to fight for unhappily. Despite the stares and rude comments that sometimes still occur to this day, I began to acknowledge the features that I love about myself and became grateful to even be alive. I had devoted so much time into hating my scars that I forgot to cherish them for what they are: a reminder that I fought to be alive and that I shouldn’t waste the second chance that I’ve been given in life. Today, I can honestly say that I have never been happier in life. I dedicate my time to being grateful for the person I am and for those who care about me, leaving my life filled with pure bliss. There was a point in my life when everyone thought I wouldn’t survive three days, but here I am twelve years later, surviving, and taking advantage of every opportunity that is thrown my way. Nowadays, majority of my time is spent on furthering my education as an undergraduate student with hopes of going onto grad school to pursue my career path as a burn psychologist. My goal is to help young children cope from similar traumatic experiences, so that they can emotionally recover to their fullest extent and carry on with their lives as I have. If having a burn injury has taught me anything, it’s that nothing should ever hold anyone back because there are so many opportunities out there waiting for you. I can assure you that I don’t intend on wasting anymore of the opportunities I have been given in my second chance at life.

Burn Survivor, Tamarah Houghton