The Marks We Carry

Childhood Burn Survivor Shares Story Behind Her Scars


Courtesy Photo

A now seventeen-year-old Garcia poses with a photo of her younger self in recovery after the accident. Garcia’s scars cover her arm and shoulders in the photo.

When I look at myself I see someone different than everyone else. I see a girl littered with battle scars. Scars that show what I once went through.

When I was around three-years-old, I was burned with a cup of hot tea. My siblings and I always went with my mom to her work, which was a little building on the square. My mom was busy with my younger brother, Dominic, who was a baby at the time. I heard the microwave beep, and went to take the cup out because I was thirsty. The cup was too hot and I spilled most of the tea along my upper body. The wound was gruesome. I had third degree burns surrounding almost my entire upper chest. I was rushed to the local hospital and then airlifted to Kosairs Hospital in Louisville where I was given medication to manage my pain. The medication caused me to have trouble breathing.

Though the doctors eventually got me stable, my battle was far from over. I was left in a cast for a couple of months and was given a skin graft. The skin graft belonged to a young boy who had passed who was an organ donor. I will forever be grateful for that boy, who I still carry with me every day.

Throughout the years, I have had many mental battles with myself involving my burn. Most people at our school know about my burn, yet some forget and so they ask about it. What most do not know is that my burn is almost constantly on my mind.

Garcia at age three in bandages after her accident. (Courtesy Photo)

The scars on my body have created insecurities that have become my biggest enemy. In pictures, I worry if people will notice how it looks. Will they ask me about it? Sometimes it does not even cross my mind, but other days I have to stop myself from crying over it.

These are things that I do not tell anyone, because I feel like they are irrelevant to all of you.

My burn has shaped me as a person, by teaching me that some people around me have no filter. They will let their curiosity get the best of them and ask about sensitive topics without considering others’ feelings.

I will have kids who will ask why my arm looks like this. I will have kids who ask if they can touch my arm and then make a weird face, or say “ew.” I have learned to accept that reality.

Has this experience been hard? Yes, but it has also been a game changer for me. It has boosted my drive and passion to prove that this incident does not define who I am. I can still be a strong woman, while still dealing with insecurities.

But I am sharing my story now, and it feels like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders.