By Liana Jacob
MEET the brave mum who suffered from numerous third degree burns so severe she was comatose after someone threw gasoline at her in front of a bonfire causing her to “lose her identity” after suffering severe facial scarring but who has since recovered and become a happy wife and a mother.
On January 18, 2009, student and mum, Kacey Harris (26), was only 17-years-old when she encountered the most horrific moment of her life. While standing in front of a bonfire, someone threw gasoline on her face, which caught fire immediately.
With the perpetrator unapologetic about the act, and her family blaming her for the incident and labelling her a ‘liar’, she felt entirely alone.
After ten days of operations, which involved removing the burnt skin, replacing it with artificial skin, and being in a medically induced coma for three days, she recovered and went on to meet the love of her life, who she married and had a baby boy. She now vows to make each moment count.
“Growing up, my family life was chaotic. There was relatively little sense of togetherness. I have six siblings, each of which I have recently began to bond with,” Kacey said.
“I got my burns at a bonfire. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and became the victim of someone’s morbid curiosity.
“I was standing across from the bonfire when someone threw gasoline in my face. I was instantly engulfed.
“Growing up after the incident was difficult. I was left without a support system, and many people rallied around the individual who threw the gasoline.
“I was labelled a liar and had lost my sense of identity at just seventeen years-old. Because the injuries I sustained were primarily on my face and neck, I had many insecurities which I had to learn to overcome.
“At the time, I felt as though I lost my identity. I was unable to recognize myself in the mirror, and that was both frustrating and defeating.
“I was told many times by my doctors to expect scarring, and so I tried not to get my hopes up of regaining the image I had come to know for so much of my life.
“After the incident, I was transported to a hospital. From the hospital, I was transferred to a burn unit where I underwent three surgeries to remove the burnt skin and to receive artificial skin to cover the burns.
“I was placed in a hyperbaric chamber to help reduce swelling. These procedures happened one to two-times each day for nearly two-weeks.
“I was in a medically induced coma for three days but was out of the burn unit in just under two weeks. My doctors were incredibly happy with how quickly I recovered.”
After being shunned by those around her made life difficult for Kacey, who is from California, USA, but the psychological trauma she had to endure was the most difficult part.
“I believe the hardest thing about it all was knowing the person who did this to me was unapologetic and watching those I believed were there to support me, avoid the incident,” she said.
“I watched my support system collapse, and this left me with a sense of isolation and incredible distrust for those I was close to.
“The recovery process was arduous. The physical toll was difficult, but the psychological and emotional toll was the most difficult part to recover from.
“My biggest supporter throughout this process has been my husband. He has comforted me and held my hand as I’ve walked through most of my recovery process. I would credit him for my emotional and psychological recovery.
“The incident changed my life in many ways. During the first few years after the incident, I made many terrible decisions based purely on impulse.
“I had this thought that I had survived an incident which should have killed me or left me disfigured, and so I thrived on living on the edge of life.
“Now, I cherish my life. The incident has transformed me from someone who wasn’t sure why they survived, to a person who is extremely grateful to have a second chance to live and experience life.
“Immediately after the incident, many of my loved ones were unresponsive or were unreachable. I was told by one family member that I deserved it, and many others believed that I had somehow done this to myself.
“In the beginning, I had to adjust my life and daily routines. Because of the injuries, I had to avoid sunlight and had to seek therapy to address my emotional recovery.
“I was left with many more mental and emotional scars than physical, so I needed considerable help in that aspect.
“Since the incident, my life is incredible. I have a wonderful family, and I feel both lucky and grateful to have the life I have now.
“It was difficult in the beginning, but my journey made me more grateful and appreciative of my current life.
“The advice I would give to another burn survivor like myself is to hold onto hope and faith, because life will get better.
“It is important to surround yourself with people who are sympathetic to your situation and can help aid in the physical and emotional recovery process.”
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