(WSVN) - She thought life as she knew it had ended after an accident left her scarred over half her body. But now, a courageous young South Florida woman is working to help others. Here is her “Survivor’s Story.”
The nightmare began on July 21, 2016.
Twenty-two-year-old Julie Saint-Fleur was working at a Fort Lauderdale nightclub food stand when a fight broke out, and bullets started to fly.
Julie Saint-Fleur, burn survivor: “Everyone got up to run away, and one of the fryers were tripping over, and the boiling oil splashed over my back, and landed on my back and legs.”
Julie was rushed to the hospital.
Julie Saint-Fleur: “When the oil initially hit my back, I thought it was a gunshot.”
It wasn’t a bullet she felt, but second- and third-degree burns covering 33 percent of her body. Over the next month, Julie endured four skin graft surgeries.
Julie, who was in college working on a teaching degree, put her dreams on hold.
Julie Saint-Fleur: “After the burns, I no longer wanted to picture myself standing in front of group of small children with my scars.”
She found solace in social media. As the scars began to heal, she posted pictures and told her story of survival.
Julie Saint-Fleur: “Burn survivors were commenting on there like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re so brave.'”
Her posts led to a story in a British newspaper, which then led to an appearance on the syndicated TV talk show “The Doctors.”
The show then gifted her a yearlong series of free skin treatments at Siperstein Dermatology Group in Boynton Beach.
Dr. Robyn Siperstein, dermatologist: “The skin’s looking really good.”
Twice a month, Julie undergoes a treatment called Cutera Secret.
Dr. Robyn Siperstein: “We started out not knowing if it would work ’cause it’s a treatment used for anti-aging purposes and sometimes acne scarring, but no one had used it on burn scars or skin-grafting scars, and we’ve been quite amazed by the results.”
After six months of treatments, Julie’s scars are fading.
Julie Saint-Fleur: “My skin is softer. The color is coming back to normal.”
As she healed, her self-confidence came back. She got her degree, built a website and started a clothing brand for burn survivors.
She also wrote a children’s book called “Lilian Is Alright” about a little girl who, like Julie, is a burn survivor.
Now, two and a half years after the accident, Julie’s dream of becoming a teacher is back on track.
Julie Saint-Fleur: “When I first got burned, I never pictured I’d be here. Now to be at this point is definitely humbling.”
She hopes her story of survival will continue to inspire others.
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