With help from local business, West Michigan woman overcoming burn injuries
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Overcoming a burn injury is a struggle for the survivors. Tonight, a West Michigan woman and a West Michigan business are sharing their personal stories to advocate for others, struggling as well.
Depression, anger, doubt. Recovery is a challenge for many burn survivors.
Beyond the emotional scars, physical ones as well.
One West Michigan woman says she won't let that define her, and she's hoping others won't either.
For Christine Queen, memories of high school still make her smile.
At just 16, Queen faced one of her largest life challenges, sitting in chemistry class her junior year the day before Thanksgiving break.
"He wanted to do one last fun experiment before the end," she said. "It exploded so when it blew up it fell toward me."
18-20 percent of Queen's body--her hands, face, and torso--were badly burned, and her voice was damaged as well.
"I took a really big deep breath and just screamed and that injured my vocal chords," she said.
For Queen, summer vacations became a time for reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. 12 to 13 in all.
"I think part of it was just how I was raised, an innate thing in me, I didn't want something like that to hold me back," she said.
What should have been a setback didn't stop Christine, thanks in part to her positive personality and a support system.
"We try to bring the medical, psychological specialist, and experts into the picture and make sure that the treatment team is big enough," said Steven Weston, with Varnum Law, in Kalamazoo.
Varnum advocates for burn patients like Christine all over the state. They were just recognized by the University of Michigan's trauma burn center. It's personal relationships--like Christine's--that motivate them to do more.
Christine is now helping other survivors at an annual burn camp, to let them know they're not alone, and they too can make a difference.
"It's OK to have bad days you can cry you can scream you can be upset," she said. "I have been able to meet and been able to enrich their lives."
Christine says because she was so lucky to have a strong support system while she was healing, she now tries to be a support system for other burn survivors that don't have one.