The Mamingwey Burn Survivor Society held its 16th annual Burn Survivor gathering on October 25 and 26, 2013 at the Canad Inns Polo Park Hotel. The theme this year was “Together we are Stronger”.
This was our best attended local conference with over 130 burn survivors, family members, HSC staff, and firefighters from Manitoba and beyond attending the 2 day sessions.
The keynote speaker, Liz Dideon Hess, is a burn survivor who brings valuable credibility to her job as a clinical social worker working with burn patients and their families at the LeHigh Valley Hospital Burn Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “Using my own story is a very powerful way to connect with new patients who often can’t believe there’s a life after a bad burn. Seeing somebody else like me with a major burn injury who has a job, is happily married, comfortable and confident can be really inspiring.” Liz shared her story of burn recovery at our conference and also led an interactive session on “Putting the U in Support”. Her moving story and open and honest nature made a huge impact on the listeners as they related to her struggles and triumphs.
One particularly powerful session centered on the importance of a support network for not just the survivor, but also the entire family. This session started with a burn survivor sharing his story and then three family members (a sibling, a son and a spouse) discussed their personal experiences as they watched their respective loved ones journey through hospitalization and recovery beyond the burn. Their experiences resonated with many survivors and family members in our audience.
We also had several medical presentations including a session on “Improving Sleep after Injury” by Dr. Norah Vincent, a leading expert on how to improve sleep habits; a discussion on “The Role of Spirituality in Healing” by Spiritual Health Specialist Daniel Barclay, and a presentation on “Coping Emotionally After a Burn” by psychiatric nurses Kris Lischynski and Tasha Szczerba.
Survivors were free to share their journeys with each other in several sharing circles, which are considered a most valuable healing experience. Family and friends of the survivors also had a chance to share with each other.
The Mamingwey Burn Survivor Society again hosted a half-day Children’s program for children who have been burned as well as their siblings and children of parents who are burned. Twelve children attended it this year.
The Mamingwey Burn Survivor Society would like to thank our sponsors: The Firefighters Burn Fund, the HSC Foundation, as well as Manitoba Hydro, Canad Inns, Bio-Med Sciences Inc United Steelworkers Local 6166, the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, CityPlace Orthodontics, the Manitoba Pork Council and Power Vac Services Ltd for their generous contributions that made this event possible.