Looking Out the Window
Below, Evan Duran shares the journey of achieving his dreams after his childhood goals were disrupted by a burn injury.
Looking Out the Window
by Evan Duran
I’ve always been fascinated by history. Where did we come from? Who was the first person to set foot on this soil -- and why? As a child, my dream was to photograph the world. I was always looking in old family albums and asking, “Who is in that picture? What are they doing?”
Then, when I was 18, I was in an accident that left me with third-degree burns over 40-45 percent of my body.
After my injury, I thought I’d never be able to become a photographer.
I tried several different jobs. I worked in retail, restaurants, and even as a part-time valet. I was trying to feel like a productive member of society, but I was really looking for something that made me feel like I could make a difference.
I thought about all my time in the hospital. All the time I spent looking out the window, thinking I was missing out, and wondering what was going on in the world. Finally, I had an idea.
If I picked up the camera again, I could help all the patients still looking out the window. I could show them there’s a whole world out here waiting for them.
So I embraced the outdoors.
I bought a mountain bike. I bought a truck. At 21, I learned how to snowboard. I took up hiking. I joined multiple soccer teams, including one with my older brother. I even taught myself to ride my bike with no hands.
I was outside -- like people have been for generations -- and it felt great. I experienced the mountains, the trees, and the wind on my face again. Immersed in nature, I even forgot about my scars and my burns.
But to achieve my goals, I had to face many of my fears.
In 2001, I was invited to attend the first Young Adult Program at Phoenix World Burn Congress in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This meant getting over my fear of flying.
I got on a plane, went to Phoenix World Burn Congress, and in the years that followed, got involved as a photographer with many burn survivor organizations.
Since then, I’ve explored the Mayan temples in Yucatán, Mexico. I’ve spent six days in the Utah desert, rafting down the Green River with a group of burn survivors. I’ve traveled and taken pictures throughout the United States and beyond.
At 18, I thought I would never achieve my goals, but I could not have been more wrong. If anything, my burns pushed me even harder. I wanted to prove to myself -- and everyone else -- that I could do anything, no matter how hard I thought it was.
Thanks to an amazing hospital staff, the support of my family and friends, and the peer support of other burn survivors, I’ve been able to pursue my childhood dreams. Today, I’m a professional photographer traveling the world.
I can honestly say I’m a better person because of the challenges I’ve overcome.
Evan Duran isn't the only survivor to wonder if he would be able to achieve his goals after a burn injury. To help burn survivors get back to living after a burn injury, the Phoenix Society offers the following resources:
- Beyond Surviving: Tools for Thriving after a Burn Injury: a free online course designed to help burn survivors get back to living after a burn injury, offering valuable and practical skills to help you live with confidence as a burn survivor.
- Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery): a hospital-based, one-on-one peer support program that connects people with new burn injuries to survivors or family members who have been impacted by a burn injury.
- Peer Support Chat: a moderated online chat that offers survivors all over the world a private community for support.The chat is held weekly on Wednesdays from 9:00PM - 10:30PM EST.
- Burn Support Magazine: Each issue includes features on recovering burn survivors; articles about the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of burn recovery; and information about burn prevention programs, safety legislation, and the burn community.
- Outdoor Safety All Summer Long, by Susan McKelvey and Ryan McGinnis (National Fire Protection Association)
- Posttraumatic Growth: A Choice and Transcending Burn Trauma: The Journey from Survival to Reclaiming Your Life, by Megan Bronson, PMHCNS-BC
- Workforce Integration: Survivors as Assets in Employment, by Helen Christians, OT