During the summer before my senior year of high school, I woke up one day with not a clue in the world that it could have been my last day. In my hometown, on a beautiful country road with my cousin and two friends, the driver lost control around a slippery turn. We flipped several times and while not wearing my seat belt, I flew out of the rear window. A single day would alter my life story forever.
As my body laid far from the car, I entered into a dream-like state, with scenes of my life flashing before me. I saw my family and friends but as I reached towards them I was pulled back into my body at the scene of the accident. I began feeling the pulse of my heart and hearing my name being yelled but I was unable to move or answer. I believe my Dad, who passed away before I was born, helped me survive. The Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department responded quickly to the scene and my journey to the Prince George’s Trauma Center began.
One of the hardest experiences in the hospital was when I saw myself in the mirror for the first time. Although an excellent surgeon performed facial laceration surgery, my face would never be the same. The support and serenity brought by human love was my saving grace. As soon as visiting hours began loved ones overflowed my room. My favorite memory occurred when the room fell silent as my family and friends watched over me and I shared a deep sense of gratitude. I grew a new perspective of living in the present, making peace with the past, and having faith for the future.
Since 2006, recovery has been a bittersweet journey and with the Trauma Survivors Network (TSN), I am blessed with a full recovery. As Miss Maryland International 2013 I dedicated my platform to TSN during my reign in the Miss International pageant system. From once believing I looked like a monster to becoming a beauty queen raising awareness at hundreds of events across the country, on television, and radio stations allowed me to use my tribulation as a testimony to help survivors all over the world. Attending support group meetings and peer visiting patients has healed me in the deepest ways. By joining and sharing your story, you can inspire even more hope after hindrance.
Please consider becoming involved if you aren’t already involved in a trauma outreach. If you are part of a trauma center, you might be interested in hosting survivor meetings. If you are a family member of someone in trauma, or you are a survivor, you can help manifest a beautiful destiny of healing and hope through the TSN. Trauma is a disease that does not discriminate and it can happen to our families, friends, and neighbors. Like other diseases there are steps including prevention, management, treatment, and recovery for life after trauma.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the passionate staff, surgeons, and therapists at the University of Maryland Medical Center and the Trauma Survivors Network for your countless hours of compassion. Thank you to the inspiring patients, survivors, and family members who share positivity through pain. I am grateful to my family who love me unconditionally and friends who have always believed in me. Most importantly, I thank God for awakening my soul and making every second of my second chance count.
Every breath we take, every beat of our hearts, and every second we are blessed to be alive is for a reason, all with divine importance. The present is a gift and God has purpose beyond our pain. As Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Miracles happen, we are all living proof.
Survivor on August 12, 2006