Enduring A Burn Injury

By: Cindy Valavani

“Enduring a burn injury is one of the most horrific and terrifying experiences a human being can endure.”


My reason for writing this is to invite new burn survivors to our non profit organization called Burn Survivors Throughout The World, Inc. (BSTTW). BSTTW does many things to assist the burn survivor community in their recovery. Not only does it attempt to make this journey a bit easier it also lets the new burn survivor know that they are not alone. When I was injured there were no support groups online only the ones you went to in person which a short time later seemed to fade away. Not sure why. I think one reason might be that some people don’t want to be reminded of the hell they endured when they were first burned whereas others may not have the time for whatever reason to devote to recovery efforts. There is so much that goes on not only physically with the scars, but also emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. When I say psychologically I mean just with everyday things most of us take for granted like going to work, out to dinner etc. This all changes when one suffers a burn injury. People we once thought of as friends slowly seem to drift away, often never to be found again. One thing is for sure, one finds out who his/her true friends are in this time of need. Another factor to consider is the age of the person when he or she is first injured. I was burned at almost 12 years of age. It will be 48 yrs on the 21st of this month. I’ve had over 40 surgeries. Some of the surgeries were reconstructive and some surgeries that I needed the insurance considered elective and they did not pay.


I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our services. BSTTW is a 501(c)(3)non profit organization that was founded in 2001 by Michael Appleman. Michael suffered burns to his ankles, feet, legs and a little on his face. Until then there wasn’t really much online as far as support goes for a burn injury. The only site available was Burn Support Online which was run by Gary Graham. The support group lasted a few years but unfortunately had to shut down due to financial reasons. Michael started BSTTW as a group in the late 1990’s. The organization become popular and he decided, with the help of several burn survivors and family members to incorporate and offer extensive services. BSTTW offers support groups for survivors as well as their friends and family in a chat room on Monday nights from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm EST. Burn Survivors and family members can also receive one on one support by telephone, chat and in person when available. BSTTW also offers the BSTTW Online Community and has a great deal of educational materials, stories and poems on their site. You can learn more by going to the BSTTW website at https://www. burnsurvivorsttw.org.