Burn survivor is sharing her story of resilience and gratitude

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 1:29 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville mother of two is sharing her story after a tragic accident left 85% of her body burned.

The summer of 2021 was a busy time for Charlie Anne Xavier.

“The brewery was going to be opening, and there was a lot of work to be done,” Charlie Anne said.

It was time to open Patch in Gordonsville.

“I just wanted to help in anyway I could,” she said. “I wanted to focus and help with the kids play area. So that’s what I was working on when the accident actually happened.”

That accident changed Charlie Anne’s life. A sander she was using exploded, leaving most of her body burned.

“I was engulfed in total flames,” Charlie Anne said. “I survived an un-survivable event.”

She says she remembers every detail: “The moment that I was loaded in the helicopter and could hear them talking back and forth to VCU about how critical my care was, that was the first moment I had the thought of we might be in trouble. I do remember saying prayers at that moment and thinking about I would not go home to my boys,” Charlie Anne said.

Once she made it to the VCU Burn Center in Richmond, doctors said she had a 3% chance of survival.

Her prayers were answered. Her children, London and Julien, kept her going.

“I’ve told my 5 year old that he was my hero, because I constantly was thinking of him and how he needed me and how I needed to be here,” Charlie Anne said. “I just kept finding small goals to reach and thinking, ‘In a month-and-a-half I may be here,’ and I would reach that goal, and, ‘In two weeks I’ll be here.’ So I kept small victories, kept looking forward to those.”

A major victory came in March of 2022, when she was transferred to a rehab center, and then weeks later came home for the first time in eight months.

“Laughter is a really great medicine for me. Music is, as well, and it’s gotten me through a lot of it,” Charlie Anne said.

The battle continues: She’s balancing being a mom, wife, and friend all while working to get back on her feet and back to the people she loves.

Through it all, by her side is her husband, André.

“The role of advocate is probably my most important role,” André said. “We are super excited to have her home and very grateful to God to have her here. To see her interacting with our boys is priceless, and to see the joy in her eyes and the joy in their eyes is incredible. It’s a miracle that she’s here.”

As Charlie Anne continues to recover at home, she says she’s thankful for every moment with her children. Moments she wasn’t sure she would ever have again.

“I almost didn’t get the chance to be a mom and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be, and I’m glad that I’m here to do that and to see that through. It’s very important to me, and now I want to get better so I can be the best mom for them and be strong and be a great mentor and teacher for them and anything they will learn in life. I’m here for it,” Charlie Anne said.

André and Charlie Anne are writing a book about their experience. It’s set to come out on September 10, exactly one year from the accident. The first chapter is free online.

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