Archive for July, 2011


Trial By Fire: Lives Re-Forged

We in the burn community are very excited about a documentary being produced. Called “Trial By Fire: Lives Re-Forged,” it takes a close look at the special hell burn survivors go through, and our lifelong struggles to heal—physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Producer Megan Smith-Harris explores the dramatic and deeply personal stories of seven ordinary people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Each story chronicles the triumph of the human spirit along with horrific pain. I am proud to be included among these brave individuals.

I am normally a very private person, but I am embarking on this very public road in hope that my 30+ years as a burn survivor give me a perspective that may help others on similar journeys through life’s challenges, especially when they involve burns. Megan’s purpose in producing the documentary is to give a compassionate voice to the entire burn community – not only burn survivors, but also our families and the medical and support organizations committed to our recovery.

You can learn more about Trial By Fire: Lives Re-Forged and see video clips at I invite you to follow this blog and maybe even share your own story, as we add more voices in hopes of fostering understanding. As Megan says, “TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-Forged is a film about acceptance that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt rejected or marginalized for being different.”




Speaking for burn survivors

It’s not what happens to you in life that matters, but what you do with it. You can let life make you bitter and hard or you can let it soften you and open you up to all of its possibilities.

My life is a work in progress. I’ve fought through unimaginable physical and emotional pain, rage and self-pity. With a lot of help from others, I’ve clawed my way back from the depths of denial and drug abuse that resulted in spiritual, emotional and financial bankruptcy. I still work every day to keep anger and isolation at bay and do my best to stay peaceful and hopeful in my daily life. But I have achieved some self-acceptance and peace. I’ve discovered that at the core, I am just like everyone else—just as beautiful and just as ugly.

It took me years to realize this. Everyone struggles with his own demons. Mine came to light as a result of a horrific accident. I’m writing this blog to help others, especially burn survivors, on their journeys of self-discovery. It is a painful road, but the only one I have found worth taking. Maybe having a friend who’s been there can make it a little less lonely.

As I share some of what I’ve learned, I hope you will do the same. Telling our stories helps take the power out of the trauma we have suffered and retraumatization that we continue to endure. Sharing our stories gradually opens the door to healing.

Beyond Recognition

An intimate view of a burn survivor's life and recovery


July 2011

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