Connecting with others

Written on September 01, 2021

On the day after Christmas in 2020, Candi Yenchenko gathered with a small group of friends for a gift exchange. What started as an innocent night of fun and holiday cheer, quickly turned for the worse.

Similar to a tiki torch, an alcohol-based candle was burning in the house nearby. Due to the lack of color from the flame, no one was aware that the candle was still lit, so when a friend attempted to relit the candle, the candle exploded. This caused Candi to receive 2nd and 3rd-degree burns on her hands, face, and chest. Once Candi was stable enough to be transported, she was treated at the UPMC Mercy Burn Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

"I had the most incredible support system in the burn unit. They knew that I was struggling with some really negative thoughts, and the head nurse, Pati, told me about Phoenix Society. She said she could try to understand what I was going through, but connecting with others like me could really help."

Candi is now an active member in both Virtual Support Group and Peer Support Chat. She still struggles with PTSD and night terrors but turns to these programs to find the support she needs - especially on tough days.

I can't express the gratitude that I have for the Virtual Support Group. I have had a million questions, and they have been there ready and willing to answer all of them.

When I have bad days, I can't tell you how much the support means to my mental health. A few times, people have reached out on Facebook directly to check on me. It makes me realize that there are people that really care. People I have never met before, but we are all going through the same struggles."

Her husband's never-ending support, along with weekly counseling, has also been crucial in Candi's recovery. If she could share one piece of advice with survivors, she wants them to know that they will be stronger in the end.

"Never give up."