By Josh Saunders
A burn survivor has learned to embrace and show off her scarred skin thanks to her sister’s empowering words that she’s ‘limited edition’.
Laura Masters, 25, from Caerphilly, Wales, suffered horrific third and fourth degree burns to half of her body, from the stomach down from scolding water.
Doctors doubted the 16-month-old would survive initially and also feared she would never be able to walk, with her body swelling to more than double its size.
But she defied their predictions leaving the hospital after four months and relearned to walk as well as having over 120 operations to graft new skin onto her body.
During her teen years Laura struggled with her scarring, hiding beneath long layers in summer and it wasn’t until visiting a burn camp three-years-ago that she’s started to learn to accept herself.
Now Laura’s embracing her scars, showing them off in skirts and dresses, and says that her sister helped her to see her skin positively by telling her she was ‘limited edition’.
Laura, a private nanny, said: “I feel like I’m proud of my scars and know they have made me the person that I am today.
“I’m confident enough to show off my scarring to help others become more aware of burns and show other survivors they are not alone.
“My mum was amazing, growing up, I always felt different to everyone else but she explained what happened to me and encouraged me not to cover up.
“She suggested I should wear skirts and dresses, she didn’t want me to hide away and wanted me to hold my head high and be proud.
“When I was in high school I felt down about my skin and I would wear jeans or tights, I lacked confidence until hitting my 20s.
“I felt like people were always staring at me, which of course is only human nature, but I would carry on walking and not react to it.
“One day, I remember after someone said something horrible, my sister told me not to worry my ‘legs are limited edition’, it’s something that’s always stuck with me.
“Her words made me feel confident in myself about them and while I still struggled it was something that stayed in the back of my mind.
“My mindset completely changed while in South Africa for a burns camp, other survivors were wearing shorts and dresses, so I started doing it, then at home I continued to reveal my skin.
“Now I don’t hide my scarring at all, I go out wearing dresses, skirts and shorts in summer, I don’t care what people say to me or what they say about my burns.
“It’s definitely something to be proud of, my skin has shaped me into the person I am today.”
After suffering burns to 50% of her body, doctors feared the worst for Laura after rushing her to hospital.
Laura said: “Doctors were concerned and amazed that I survived.
“There was also a fear that I would have suffered brain damage, due to the lack of oxygen caused by shock.
“My toes were so badly damaged by it all, that I was told I would never walk again, but as a determined, strong and independent child I proved them wrong.”
Since her accident, Laura’s had over 120 operations to repair the damage caused by scolding water including Integra grafts and skin grafts.
Laura said: “Over the years I’ve had numerous skin grafts, where they have the Integra and transplant skin to put over the top.
“I have had skin taken from my back, tummy, arms with most of my operations happening before the age of 12.”
At school Laura says her strong friendship group shielded her from a lot of bullying other burns survivors can face but now her own confidence has allowed her to talk openly about her skin.
Laura said: “Some people avoid asking questions about my scars, others stare and some don’t even know I have them until I bring it up in conversation.
“When the kids I take care of ask about my scars, I tell them it’s from boiling water and use it to raise awareness of the danger of hot water, encouraging them not going near it.”
Laura attributes her body positivity to the burns camp she visited in South Africa three-years-ago and her sister’s words when she was 10-years-old.
Over time both of which has helped to empower her and allow Laura to talk about her experiences – something she hopes to help other survivors do in future.
Burn camps for child survivors have been running 15 years and also are for adults too, aiming to empower and provide much needed support.
Laura said: “I’m working towards becoming a volunteer as a children’s camp leader at burns camp, I want to give something back after it’s helped me and so many others to embrace their burns.
“Every scar has a story, we have survived the trauma and the pain of the operations, we are brave in every way and our scars make us the people we are today.”