Five years ago, Beth suffered burns to nearly 60% of her body, including her face, chest and arms. She spent over seven months in hospital, but over that entire period had no contact with other burns survivors.
Now, as she explains:
“Through the Foundation I have met a number of other survivors at organised social events. Knowing that other people face the same difficulties as I do – and finding out about how they’ve managed their burns – really has made it easier for me to live with burns and scars.”
The first event Beth attended was a cupcake decorating class, followed by a Pamper Day a few months later:
“At the Pamper Day, I had an extended camouflage and make-up consultation. During this consultation, we discussed different camouflage and make-up brands, which were available for me to try, and the practitioner showed me how to apply the products properly.”
Shortly after attending the Pamper Day, Beth applied successfully for a job.
“Having my scars camouflaged gave me the confidence to attend the interview. Had I not attended the KPF Pamper Day at the time I did, I’m not sure I would have applied for a job so soon. The event was only a few hours long, but it helped me to take a huge step forward. The Foundation has since provided me with medical tattooing to restore my eyebrows so I don’t need to pencil them in every day. These treatments have massively improved my confidence and I can see parts of my old face returning.”
Beth also felt conscious of having lost some of her hair permanently and so the Foundation and Lucinda Ellery Consultancy have provided her with a bespoke Hair Replacement System which is integrated with her natural hair.
“The Foundation has also been invaluable as a source of information on treatments for scarring. I’ve had laser treatment on my face and tried out difference creams and silicone products. At Scar Academy UK in February 2013 I volunteered to act as an usher for delegates on the day – among them were some of the professionals who had been involved in my acute care in hospital. I also used my skills as a research analyst to assist the Foundation’s Clinical Scar Specialist with the evaluation of the course, assessing the pre and post-course questionnaires completed by the delegates and producing the final report. It was great to be able to contribute my time and skills to help such an important project.” Since then, Beth has worked on a number of projects with the Foundation; most recently in 2015 she presented at the British Burns Association Annual Conference to bring the audience up to date with the Foundation’s work on a checklist for outpatient appointments for burn survivors.
Beth has also trained to be a Peer Support Volunteer and has been able to meet with individuals with burns and scars who were not ready to attend a group social event to offer her support and share experiences. She also led craft classes for her peers at the Foundation’s recent Weekender event for people with burns and scars. She can think back to how apprehensive she felt when attending that first cupcake event and is pleased to be able to make new attendees feel welcome and offer reassurance.
“It’s now just past 5 years since I was burnt and that time has been a rollercoaster. I have had some good times, some bad times, and some amazing times. For me, it has taken some time to be accept the loss of my old face and be comfortable with my appearance and scars. But I have found that my burns haven’t really stopped me doing anything that I’ve wanted to do, although I may have to make some adjustments. In the last 5 years, I have got a job, started driving again and travelled to different continents on my own. I have just had to plan a little more carefully and make sure I rest as I get tired quickly, but I now know anything is possible.”