Today marks 12 years of being a burn survivor! On May 2nd of 2009 my life changed. Every year as the day approaches, I sometimes don’t even want to think about it, because it was a traumatic day for me, but also a reminder that I’m alive and I overcame it. For those who don’t know me on a personal level, I was adopted twice. The second family that I was adopted into, I went to live with when I was seven. The man who was supposed to be the “father” was a really crappy man who didn’t protect his “kids”, instead he was the one who hurt me more than any man I’ve ever met in my life. When I was 10 years old, he was writing me and his biological daughter’s names on the driveway with gasoline and lighting it on fire. For a 10-year-old I thought it was cool at the time. I was sitting in the garage with my adopted mother, and he threw the gasoline on the tiki torches and a big blue ball of fire came towards us. I was burned on my face, arms, and legs. I spent two weeks at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. I had to re-learn how to walk and I had to adjust to the different face I had. I had recurring nightmares of that day. I was scared to be around fire, especially going to a hibachi restaurant where they cook the food in front of you! It took me forever to not fear fire! So, every year I reflect back on how much this impacted my life. It’s hard for me to talk about it without breaking down because it’s a type of hurt that doesn’t just go away overnight. I used to wear long sleeves and jeans all year round, not caring how hot it was, because I was ashamed of how I looked. I was bullied by other kids because they didn’t understand what happened. I couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror. I hid all the scars I could because I didn’t like the way people would look at me.
I started attending GFBF camp for burn survivors in the summer of 2010. This camp has helped me grow in so many ways. This camp helped me with confidence, and I learned how to embrace something that was bad and learned how to look at the positives. It also taught me to forgive someone who didn’t deserve it, but to set myself free from the pain I felt. This camp has helped me make friends that have gone through what I’ve experienced as a burn survivor and gave me friends for life! I thank God for putting my friends and people who I call my family in my life to help shape me into the confident woman that I am today! It took years for me to become the person I am today. My face healed, I still have some scars on my arms and my left leg is the only one that has scars that are still healing. Each year, the scars on my left leg gets smaller and smaller. I am grateful to be alive, I am blessed with friends and family that love me! Without you I don’t think I would be the confident woman I am today! I have never missed a year of burn camp until the pandemic hit. Even as an adult now, going back each year as a counselor has helped me give back to the younger generation just like what had been given to me from the adults who helped me when I was a kid. Thank God for healing my spirit. If I didn’t have my faith, I honestly would not be the Katherin I have fought so hard to become! Thank you to my Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation Family for all that y’all do for our burn community! Y’all have changed my life for the better!