WEBSITE LAUNCH PHOTOS

Here they are!

Thank you to my talented friend and event photographer Stephen Burton for taking these.

Some prep photos right before the launch at the Fire Fighters Museum:

Going over some details with event emcee and one of the participants of my project John Hart

More event prepping

Some photos of my interview with CBC

Prints from the photo exhibition

John being interviewed by the CBC

John posing with his photo in the photo exhibition

Another participant of my project, Dan Plexman, being interviewed by CBC

Helping serve the yummy catered food at my event

Guests reading printed website stories at the event

Guests

With my event live Tweeter and one of my best friends Michelle

Beginning of speeches

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First speaker Barbara-Anne Hodge, Chair of the Mamingwey Burn Survivors Society

Second speaker Martin Johnson, Chair of the Manitoba Firefighters Burn Fund

Saying my speech

Thank you to everyone who helped out with my event, who came to my event and those who sent me well wishes. It was an amazing day that couldn’t have gone better. Hopefully, we’ll be able to celebrate more news with After the Cocoon soon 🙂

JUST A SNEAK PEAK

I haven’t been able to blog on here for almost two weeks with the busyness of my launch. But it has been a good type of busy with numerous media interviews, and actually having my event, which hopefully raised awareness of burn support resources.

I just got my photographs back from my event photographer and friend Steve Burton and I’m so excited to post them up soon! Until then, here’s a sneak peak!

Being interviewed by the CBC at my launch

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Happy Friday everyone 🙂

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: BEYOND

In my first year of my program I started a photography project on my school blog with the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. Each week participants are given a theme and are challenged to post a photo associated with that theme. Last week’s theme seemed more fitting to post on here than my other blog.

This week I officially finished my website.

This meant creating all the content (stories and photographs), editing all the content, having all the (written) content peer-edited and inputting those edits and then having all the participants review the content and getting their feedback.

My peer-edited stories

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It was a lot of work. A year’s worth of work to be exact. And in about a week’s time all this hard work will lead up to my website launch.

So what happens after that?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I know after my launch I’ll be having my photographs from the launch displayed at the OnWard Gallery, but beyond that I’m not sure . . . time will tell.

SCENTSY: FLAMELESS CANDLES

***Please note I have NOT been endorsed by Scentsy. These opinions are my own. 

When I attended this year’s Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress – an international burn survivors conference – this year in Milwaukee I came across a product called Scentsy, which is marketed as a “flameless candle.” It works by having a light bulb warm up scented wax within a beautiful porcelain container.

I found these Scentsy products at the Spiegel Burn Foundation‘s (an organization that raises funds for different initiatives for burn survivors, including helping them attend World Burn Congress) booth.

I’ve been surprised by how many burn survivor stories that have involved candles so I can see why a product like this was created.

Although I wasn’t burned through a fire accident (I was burned by boiling water), I felt like my parents were always extra cautious with me and tried to make sure I stayed away from anything that could result in another accident, such as anything with a flame. I think that sense of cautiousness followed me through adulthood because to this day I’m still nervous around candles.

I bought one of these myself and I have to say that I really enjoy it – it has the benefits of a candle, but I feel comfortable around it. I’d highly recommend this product to anyone.

Our Scentsy

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Interested in getting a Scentsy? Well, you can have a chance at winning one of these by attending my website launch on Friday, February 9th at the Fire Fighters Museum at 2 p.m. 🙂

Generously donated by the Spiegel Burn Foundation

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THE FIRE FIGHTERS MUSEUM

There are many hidden gems in Winnipeg and the Fire Fighters Museum is one of them.

You’ll find it a short five minute drive from Red River College and City Hall in the Exchange District at 56 Maple Street at the intersection of Higgins and Maple. Here you’ll find a tribute to the firefighters that have served our city, including a bunch of super interesting memorabilia.

Some vintage trucks that you’ll find at the museum

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It also is the venue for my event on Saturday, February 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Along with hosting my event, the museum is open for tours every Sunday (which are given by firefighters). I highly recommend visiting if you have a chance it’s super interesting!

Happy Friday everyone!

YOU’RE INVITED . . .

To my website launch! When’s it happening? In exactly ONE month from today – Saturday, February 9th!

Here’s my official invitation made by the lovely and talented Jaclyn Leskiw:

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My project has been filled with wonderful people like her to help along the way and I’m so thankful!

If you’re available to come, I’d love the support 🙂

If you have any questions about the event, please don’t hesitate to contact me (contact info on the invitation or here).

COLLABORATION: AFTER THE COCOON MEETS THREADS OF HOPE

Earlier this year myself and a couple other of my classmates were given an amazing opportunity to intern for the Filipino Journal. This included the lovely Jackie Doming.

Like me, Jackie is doing a graduation project for our program. Her project is a clothing and accessories line called Threads of Hope, and a concert, all in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation. She has been doing an amazing job raising funds and awareness for the charity.

Recently we teamed up with Filipino Journal again who gave us the opportunity to write about our projects in the paper. Although we could have written our own articles, we thought it be a good idea to write an article for each other’s project to give a fresh perspective.

Our articles, fittingly, on the same page 🙂

After the Cocoon meets Threads of Hope

Some love for both our projects from some of our classmates

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Here’s the awesome article Jackie wrote about my project in full:

Local burn survivor sheds her cocoon
Article by Jackie Doming
Photos by Maria Cristina Laureano

At nine months old, Maria Cristina Laureano reached for a pot of boiling water. The pot tipped over
and she was drenched in scalding water, resulting in second- and third-degree burns on the left side of her upper body.

Laureano, a second-year Creative Communications student at Red River College, has been a burn survivor most of her life, but only recently decided to go public about her accident. She is creating a website called After the Cocoon for a school project, a blog featuring photos and stories of burn survivors – including her own.

“I was very discrete about it and only shared that information with a small circle of tight-knit friends and family. It used to be very difficult for me to talk about my burn injury, but now I talk openly about it so that I can help other people who are going through a tough time,” said Laureano.

Her project began with research, conducting interviews and taking photographs of burn survivors for the website. She connected with participants through the Canadian Burn Survivors Community (CBSC) and Mamingwey Burn Survivors Society. Both organizations also provided financial support to Laureano, helping her travel to the CBSC national burn survivor conference in Calgary last summer.

One of her goals is to spread information about burn survivors that may not be well known, such as the different types of burns that exist.

“Most people think of those injured in fires as burn survivors, but people can be burned through many different ways – chemical, electrical, gasoline, hot water, etc.”

Along with the website launch, Laureano is working on marketing After the Cocoon. She traveled to the World Burn Congress, an international burn survivors conference held in Milwaukee, and attended the Mamingwey conference to promote her project. She is also using social media (Facebook and Twitter) and previews on her blog to share information on the upcoming launch.

Ultimately, she wants the awareness built by the project to encourage people to donate to burn support organizations.

After the Cocoon is launching on February 9, 2013, to coincide with her 25th burn anniversary at the Fire Fighters Museum on 56 Maple St. Previews of the project can be viewed at afterthecocoon.com.

Special thank you to Jackie for writing this for me and if you’re interested in reading the article I wrote about her project, click here.

BURN SCARS AND PREGNANCIES

As a burn survivor, and knowing other burn survivors, I’ve found that we have different experiences with certain things than other people due to our burn injury. One of these include pregnancies.

I was lucky enough to get internationally-recognized motivational speaker, authour, entrepreneur and burn survivor Kelly Falardeau to answer a couple questions about how it’s like to be pregnant and have burn scars.

1. Can you tell me about yourself

At two-years-old, over 75% of my body was burned and I constantly faced rejection, teasing and staring throughout my teenage years. My label was “the ugly scar-faced girl,” but not anymore. I’ve proven you can overcome pain and struggle to become a successful single mom with kids and career. Typically I speak to women about going from near-death to success, but recently I’ve been doing more work with teenagers. Together with Martin Presse we wrote a book entitled 1000 Tips for Teenagers, which just made the best seller list in November.

In addition to receiving the Diamond Jubilee Medal this fall, I received the People’s Choice Award from the Every Woman Model Search Competition, was named on the list of 10 Most Influential Speakers in 2011 and was the recipient of the Fierce Woman of the Year Award in 2010. At the age of 2,1 and again at 32, I was elected as President of the Alberta Burn Rehabilitation Society, an organization which provides support and assistance to burn survivors, their families, friends and interested Albertans.

Kelly speaking at the Canadian Burn Survivors 2012 Conference in CalgaryKelly collage

I’ll be going to Nairobi, Kenya to speak at the schools and for a burn survivor conference which has been a dream of mine forever.

2. At this year’s Canadian Burn Survivors conference you were one of the speakers and you had mentioned that you had concerns about having burns scars and getting pregnant. Can you describe some of those worries.

I’ve been pregnant three times. The first time I got pregnant was with my daughter Alexanna, the second time was a stillborn – a girl we named Aleisha – and the third time I was pregnant with twin boys, Cody and Parker. With each pregnancy we had different concerns, but always worried about my scars, especially when I was pregnant with the twins.

The first concern was whether I could, or should, get pregnant. Throughout my whole life, I believed that my scars would hold me back from getting pregnant. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true. I felt that as a burn survivor I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. I didn’t understand how babies were exactly made, but I blamed any problem I had on my burns. It wasn’t until I met another burn survivor at the World Burn Congress and she told me that she had two kids herself and that I to could have kids. Her scars were in the same places as mine. She also pointed out another burn survivor who was there and she had prosthetic arms and she was able to have kids also. Seeing two other burn survivors who had scars in the same places as me allowed me to realize that I could have kids as a burn survivor.

The second concern was whether my skin would stretch enough. When I first got pregnant, that was the first question, and if they didn’t stretch would it harm the baby? I went and visited my plastic surgeon at the time and he said we’ll just play it by ear and see what happens. If we have to do some surgery on you then we will, but let’s not rush into anything at this time until we need to. Every day I put cream on my belly (I didn’t use anything specific like Vitamin E or Aloe Vera, whatever I had on hand) and my tummy did stretch enough. My scars completely cover my chest down past my belly button and all the way around to the middle of my back plus both of my arms and face and a little bit on my legs. The good thing is that I do have some natural skin on my belly as I was wearing a wet diaper when I got burnt at two years old.

With Alexanna being my first pregnancy we were definitely worried about my scars and didn’t know what to expect. When I was pregnant with my second baby, who ended up being a stillborn, we were more confident that I would be ok with my scars stretching. When I got pregnant the third time and found out we were having twins, that was when we were extremely concerned about my scars. Especially since I was gaining all the weight in my tummy. The twins were taking everything out of me and I had to eat incredible amounts of food to keep them growing. The good thing was that I was having ultrasounds every two weeks, and then every week during the last month. We knew the twins were growing and in fact they were getting fairly big for twins. At one point I even lost weight because I wasn’t eating enough.

Photos provided by Kelly of when she was pregnant

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Eventually, my scars were so tight that they couldn’t stretch any more and they did start splitting and bleeding. They were like tiny paper cuts. At that point, my doctor did an amniocentesis to decide if the twin’s lungs were developed enough and whether I could be induced or not. At about 29-weeks I thought my water had broke, so I went into the hospital and they had given me some steroids to help develop the twin’s lungs, so there was a real good chance that the twins’ lungs were developed enough. We found out that yes, their lungs were developed and I could be induced. I was very happy because I had gained about 50 pounds all in my belly and nowhere else. My belly was constantly moving and the twins were very active. At 36 weeks, I just couldn’t walk any more, I was so exhausted and was tired of the pain from my scars being so tight so my doctor induced me. I had the twins 30-hours later. Cody was 6 pounds 11 ounces and Parker was 6 pounds 7 ounces. They were big twins, especially for my size as I’m only 5’3”.

The second concern we had when I got pregnant the first time was whether my nipple was a functioning one. My one breast doesn’t have a nipple at all, but my other one has a partial nipple and is pretty tiny. We weren’t sure if it could function as a nipple even though I had no intentions of breastfeeding. A few days after I had Alex, I could feel some wetness and sure enough when I looked down I could see a wet spot around my nipple and realized that yes, I did have a functioning nipple. My breasts did produce milk and I did get engorged, but because I wasn’t breastfeeding eventually I just dried up and was fine after a couple weeks. I didn’t take any medication for the engorgement.

I do have a funny story though –  when I went into the hospital at 29 weeks because I thought the twins’ water had broke, the peri-natal doctor came to see me and he was trying to convince me that I should breastfeed the twins. I told him he was crazy to even suggest that as I had two babies to feed with only one partial nipple!!! As far as I was concerned breastfeeding wasn’t an option no matter what he said! He kept telling me I should consider it and I kept saying no, it isn’t an option – two babies and one partial nipple means I’ll have starving babies. The nurse even said to me that I shouldn’t consider it because where is the milk going to go in the breast that has no nipple? I could end up with some serious medical complications. But, I have heard of some women breastfeeding with one nipple, so if you are considering breastfeeding and you’re missing a nipple, please check more into it. For me, I didn’t consider it an option. I wanted other people to be able to feed the twins so I could get some rest.

How is it like being pregnant and having burn scars?

To me it is no different being pregnant other than you have to watch your scars and put lots of cream on them to keep them moist. When you’re in pain, make sure you talk to your doctor.  My doctor knew my scars were bothering me and causing extreme tightness. I will never forget once I finally had the twins and the nurses asked me how I felt and I said I felt fantastic, I’m not hurting any more and that was true. The indigestion went away instantly and my tummy didn’t hurt any more.

Did you find it very different from other experiences of women you knew who didn’t have burn scars?

The only difference is that the non-burn survivors don’t have to worry about whether their skin will stretch enough. I still had to go through all the other medical testing that any other pregnant woman would have to go through.

What type of advice would you give burn survivors who are wanting to get pregnant, but are hesitant because of their burns.

I would suggest that they find other burn survivors who have been pregnant and talk to them. That is the beauty of the internet – there is always someone who has been through what we have. Other burn survivors have called me and asked what I did and what they should be concerned about. The doctors don’t always have the answers, but the survivors can help you with some other answers the doctors don’t have.

Here are also some Facebook comments that other burn survivors were so gracious enough to let me share:

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I would like to thank Kelly again for sharing this information.

To learn more about Kelly, visit her website at: www.KellyFalardeau.com

AFTER THE COCOON LIVES ONWARD

So what happens after I complete my website launch?

Well it continues OnWard … at the OnWard Gallery that is.

Last week it was confirmed that I’ll have the space, which is located on the 3rd floor of my college, the Monday after my website launch (February 9, 2013) for a week.

Some photographs of the gallery

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OnWard Gallery inside

I’m super excited because it’ll be an opportunity for more people to check out the photographs that I’ve done for my project, especially if they can’t make my launch. As well, it can help raise awareness about burn survivor support systems.

Here are more details:

What: photographs of the burn survivors that participated in my project

Where: OnWard Gallery
3rd floor – 160 Princess St.
Red River College – The Roblin Centre

When: Monday, February 11 – Friday,  February 15, 2013

For more information, contact me here.

BURN SCARS AND MASSAGE THERAPY

As a burn survivor, and knowing other burn survivors, I’ve found that we have different experiences with certain things than other people due to our burn injury. One of these include massage therapy.

I was lucky enough to get my classmate and fellow PR major Amy Tuckett , who is also a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), to answer a couple questions about how it’s like to massage someone with burn scars.

The lovely Amy. Photo taken by Terry Proveda. 

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Here’s our Q and A:

1. Can you tell me a little about your massaging career i.e. how long have you been massaging, what’re your credentials etc.

I’ve been a massage therapist since March 2005. I’m currently a member of the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba and have worked at both Intrinsic Massage Therapy and Healthview Therapy Centre, which is a multi-disciplinary clinic that has everything from Chiropractic Treatments to Physiotherapy.

2. Can you tell me about your experience with massaging a burned person

In my Advance Treatments class at the Massage Therapy College of Manitoba, I learned treatments for burns and scars. After all the acute healing has passed, I’m able to work on scars, whether they are from burns or otherwise. Depending on the severity, it may not be realistic for the scar to completely disappear, though we do have several goals of treatment:

  •  To breakdown the collagen fibers, which are often laid down in an unorganized and random manner. Massage therapy uses techniques which try and realign the fibers, which can also provide increased elasticity (collagen fibers are not flexible).
  • To breakdown adhesions of underlying tissue. Often tissues can surrounding the scar become adhesed and/spasmed and the immobility can result in increased pain. As RMT’s often have advanced palpation skills, we can feel the adhesions and break down the adhesions below and around the surface of the burn.
  • To reduce redness and elevation of the scars. The optimal goal is for a scar to be light coloured, flexible and flat. Scars can also have some residual edema (swelling) as well as itching. Both of these things can be helped with a massage treatment.

3. Is it much different than massaging normal skin? What’s different and what kind of things do you have to consider?

Working on scar tissue is MUCH different than working on normal skin, and it is important to go to a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) who has working knowledge of treating scars. As I mentioned before, there’s less flexibility and it’s important that the scar is healed enough to be worked on, so that no tearing occurs.

I’ve worked on several different types of scars throughout my career as a RMT. I’ve worked on small incision scars from surgeries, to burns and other issues. One of the most rewarding and life-altering experiences from my career came from working with someone who had a case of Necrotizing Fascitis on their torso. A large portion of his torso (over 60%) had skin grafts, and he was extremely lucky to have made it out alive. Prior to his treatment, I’d never worked on such a big area – and it was amazing to see what a body can handle and still make it through. He had a great attitude, and spoke extremely highly of the quick medical interventions it took to save his life.
He wasn’t  from Winnipeg, but had lots of massages prior to seeing to me that dealt specifically with scar rehabilitation. His scars had quite a bit of flexibility and were healing well – he credited it to massage therapy.
I’ve worked on some burns, largely older ones, which can be harder to affect change – though change can still happen. If you are a survivor and your burns are over 2 years old, I really recommend seeing a Massage Therapist to see how they can help. It often takes multiple treatments, and best used in coordination with other healthcare practitioners.

A special thank you again to Amy for all this useful information!