Remarkable Story of Mental Resilience

I came across this amazing story of a 9-year-old girl who was badly burned in an explosion after which she could have hidden away but chose to use her pain to help others.
The Day Everything Changed
Lesia Cartelli and her cousin were playing in their grandparent’s basement on that terrible day. A gas leak ignited, causing the whole house to blow up. The explosion threw many of the 9 family members in the home across the street.
Already a fighter, Lesia pulled herself out of the rubble. Flames still covered her little body so she rolled in the dirt and snow to put them out.
“It was all face, hands, back and parts where I had synthetic on where the blast had burned around my waist,” she says.
It changed her entire life
Lesia spent several months in the hospital, undergoing surgeries and skin grafts. Once released, Lesia’s scars drew stares and questions from people, so she started isolating herself.
“When I was burned, everything in my life changed,” she said. “My friendships changed. I hated going to school. You are coping with things you never had to cope with before. People staring at you. People asking questions. Why do you look like that?”
Lesia could have remained withdrawn her whole life. When bad things happen, we can always choose to retreat or give our pain purpose. Lesia chose the latter, realizing she was put on this Earth to do more than just survive.
“My life got better when I started to look at my life as a gift,” Lesia said.
She decided to help others
Lesia started Angel Faces, a national non-profit organization offering week-long supportive retreats for adolescent female burn victims. These retreats, for girls ranging from ages 11-19, provide seminars to help the girls heal emotionally.
“The common denominator among burn survivors is the feeling of being alone – even when they have amazing support at home,” says Dana Kuhn, director of programs at the Burn Institute in San Diego. “Once you go to a gathering of survivors, you no longer have that sense of being alone.”
Lesia’s Angel Faces retreats allow the girls to bond with fellow burn victims, helping them escape the feelings of intense loneliness.
Building Others Up
She got the idea while running a burn camp in San Diego.
“Three teenage girls walked by me with their heads sinking down,” Lesia recalled. “I knew I was failing because on Monday, back in their regular lives, they’d have the same horrible days.
I was not giving them what I knew they really needed – to grow spiritually while looking different, learning how to master the social world with confidence, and teaching them how to handle teasing and rejection.”
A life changing organisation
Volunteers and therapists at the Angel Faces retreats help the girls accept their new appearance, working to boost their self-esteem, as well as providing ways they can live a positive life. Those who attend describe it as a life-changing experience. And they point to Lesia as a huge inspiration.
“She’s like a ball of sunshine,” said Casi Smith, a 17-year-old with burns on her face she received as an infant when a hot iron accidentally fell into her bassinet.
“She told me that from looking at her, I could see everything she’s been through. But here she is, instead of hiding, she’s helping people. To me, that was amazing. I don’t know if I could ever do that.”
As a woman burned in a gas explosion, Lesia is able to connect with these young ladies on a personal level, as someone who knows what they’re going through. Her heart for helping others motivates fellow burn victims to take control of their circumstances.
What a response!
What a wonderful account of someone who chose how they responded to the disaster which changed their life. She could have easily given up and hidden away for the rest of her life, but she chose to respond by helping others.
It sums up my favourite phrase –
“It’s not what happens to you in life which counts but it’s how you respond.”
A result for my new book cover
Thank you to everyone who voted for the cover of my new book ‘100 Days to Mental Resilience.’ The result is in and the winner is design B – the Path and the Tree. The voting was 44% to 56% in favour of the countryside setting.
Everyone who entered is in the draw and I will be announcing the two winners in next week’s blog. They will receive a unique Hardback version of the book which will be individually numbered and signed by myself.
Thoughts for the week.  

  1. How do you respond when things go wrong?
  2. Do you take stock and see the positive or do you struggle?
  3. This week ponder on the story of Lesia Cartelli and see if you can gain some inspiration to tackle your difficult situations.  

Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and keep Believing.
Warm and safe regards

Off the Wall – How to Develop World Class Mental Resilience available HERE (Special offer. Put in code 10POUND when prompted to receive a signed copy for £10 including postage and packing – UK only

Share this post!