To say that I am delighted to welcome our latest Ambassador is an understatement!
Sylvia Mac is a true inspiration and a perfect fit for Art & Soul Tribe and I can't wait to get together, pool our resources and help support, inspire and raise self esteem in as many people as we can.
Here is Sylvia's story:
"My name is Sylvia Mac aged 49. I was born in Stepney, East End of London being the youngest of five sisters and no brothers with wonderful loving parents. Aged just 4, me and my siblings were playing 'Hide & Seek'. My mother told us not to go into the bathroom as she was boiling water from pots to pour into the bowl for our bath. We had no hot water at the time so our mum often boiled the water. As soon as my mother had disappeared, me and my sister ran towards the bathroom. I ran inside to hide and as the door opened, I fell backwards into the boiling water.
I suffered 3rd and 4th degree burns over my back and various parts of my body. I was rushed to the local Royal London Hospital where they couldn't accommodate for burns and had police assistance blue light me to Mount Vernon Specialist Burns Hospital in Middlesex.
I was put into an induced coma on life support. My family were told I wouldn't survive and called for a priest to give my Last Rites. My father insisted that I was Baptised beforehand as he was a religious man. Miraculously I pulled through and my survival rate had risen. Whilst off the life support I caught pneumonia which meant a second dose of intensive care. The doctors told my family I would not survive the night but once again I pulled through and continued to get stronger.
During recovery, I had skin grafts taken from most of my body where the skin was thick enough. This procedure was sore and very painful along with the healing process.
I spent many months in this pre-war hospital seeing sights that no child should endure. My ward was a mixed ward with people of all ages and many different burn injuries. There were lots of people with bandaged heads that scared me so much I couldn't sleep. When I was at home I suffered continuous nightmares of doctors and patients. My parents were not able to stay with me and I learned to treat nurses as my second parents. I continued to visit my hospital for ongoing surgery, skin grafts and z-plasty procedures. I was often used for studies on burns. I was always naked, stood on a bed and told to turn around for the students. I hated these visits as they caused me to have nightmares and suffer depression at a very early age.
I became a Competitive swimmer in my younger years which meant I would have to learn how to cover my burns from the other children hiding in the changing rooms. I worked hard not to draw attention to myself and had my sister carry a very large towel to the end of the pool. I spent most of my life covering and hiding my burns. I never believed I was beautiful and couldn't look at myself in public mirrors. I was called names and told I wouldn't ever have a boyfriend, get married or be beautiful which stuck with me throughout my life. I found it impossible trying to sit exams and concentrate as I would job interviews. How can anyone in my situation become anything great in life when all I could think about was how terrible I looked. I never forget being scouted for a modelling agency and then asked to leave because of my scars. Life became impossible to me and paranoia set in which meant I was always running away from situations that could've potentially helped me.
Now aged 49, I look back and realise I spent many years suffering with Anxiety, Depression, PTSD but have now learned to change my life. I campaign for those suffering with their disfigurement by raising awareness and showing support through my blogs and social media. I continue to share my photos and reach out to different industries so that people affected by their appearance can become Olympic swimmers, actors, actresses, dancers, lawyers, doctors etc. Don't allow they way you look stop you from achieving. Its never too late to achieve your dreams and helping others achieve theirs. It does not matter what age you are, you can still live your life happily and fulfilled.
Since I learned to accept the way I look and retrieve my confidence I've managed to set up fortnightly swimming for people with skin conditions, health conditions, scars, marks, burns to help them become confident again. I've also set up a pathway for burn survivors in a local hospital and currently reaching out to the Arts and Film industry to open up avenues for those affected by their appearance. Together we can make change and not sit around waiting for life to pass us by.
There is no need to hide your Disfigurement. We can become confident again and learn to live in happiness. Let your inner beauty shine through, believe in yourself as our disfigurement is just an extra part of our uniqueness. We can all be beautiful people ❤️