Burn Survivor Wears Her Crown with Victory

BY: NIKKI MICHELLE CHARNSTROM

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 Image Courtesy of Wesley Person

Image Courtesy of Wesley Person

Scars, both physical and emotional don’t have to be a negative reminder of pain. Their very image shows the body’s strength and resilience. Dawn Monique Brown has bore her scars with confidence for the last 14 years after a traumatizing allergic reaction. While this experience altered her life forever, Dawn has claimed her victory — scars and all.

Back in 2004, Dawn paid a visit to see the doctor about her cold — or, so she thought. She was diagnosed with a sinus infection and given medication to take for the next two weeks. Unfortunately, her symptoms worsened and she returned to the doctor. She received two injections and was told to go home and keep hydrated. However, early one morning she woke up nearly immobile. After finding the strength to crawl to the bathroom, Dawn could hardly believe the blisters on her face — she was having a severe chemical reaction to Bactrim, a medication the doctors knew she was allergic to.

She was rushed by ambulance to Grady Hospital and transported to the Intensive Care Unit at Grady’s Burn Center in Atlanta, Georgia — one of the largest in the country. The following day she went into cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma for the next three months. When she was finally released seven months later, she was told her heart suffered a lot of damage and to see a cardiologist right away. One year later, Dawn had open-heart surgery.

 Image Courtesy of Wesley Person

Image Courtesy of Wesley Person

Throughout the excruciating healing process, Dawn also had to think about the care and well-being of her 3-year-old son. Although he was too young to help, it was the thought of him that motivated Dawn all the more to focus on her recovery. For almost two years, an at-home nurse tended to her raw burns, wounds and medical needs as she couldn’t physically do anything on her own.

It took nearly six years for Dawn to regain her independence — and, although she won’t ever completely recover, she is in her best health.

“I am recovering gracefully, actually better than I thought. With the grace of God on my life, I can’t ask for anything better,” Dawn says.

Despite her initial fear of never having a normal life again, with time and patience, she has been able to raise her now 17-year-old son, be an active member in her community and church, and share her story with others around the world. Dawn continues to use her experiences and scars to encourage other burn survivors.

“Live the best life because you were given another shot at it — so, go spread your wings and fly like the phoenix you are,” Dawn expresses.

Dawn credits her walk with the Lord for bringing her this far, knowing this tragedy strengthened her faith — and her confidence. Very early on during her recovery, she would often wear something to cover her entire body. She soon realized she should embrace her new skin and found the courage to show it in public. She encourages other women who are struggling with self-confidence to “embrace who you are and don’t worry about what others think and say of you because they haven’t walked a mile in your shoes.”

After years of pain and adapting to her new life, Dawn finds her victory in knowing she was created in God’s image — fearfully and wonderfully made. As a burn survivor, she welcomes life’s uncertainties, ready and eager to work through them. While she confesses we’re all humans in need of some encouragement from time to time, it’s important to keep our eyes on God — not our circumstances.

Nikki is the owner and founder of Crowned Chics. She lives in the warm desert of Phoenix, Arizona with her beloved family. If she's not ferociously clanking away on her typewriter, she's behind the camera capturing moments for her business Charnstrom Captures Photography.