I’m Kilee Brookbank, and my book, “Beautiful Scars,” will be the first book published by KiCam Projects. It comes out in May, right around the time I’ll graduate from high school.
A year ago, I was just returning to school after spending 38 days in Shriners Hospital for Children-Cincinnati recovering from second- and third-degree burns over nearly 50 percent of my body. My house had exploded with me inside.
I struggled to tie my shoes, open doors and put my makeup on. My mom, Lori—who wrote the book with me—and my family had to help me with literally everything I did. I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a normal life again, or what “normal” even meant anymore. I had to go to several hours of physical therapy every week and wear heavy compression garments under my clothes to help my scars heal.
It’s hard to believe that now I’m getting ready for another Homecoming—and I’m going to wear the cutest dress I can find!—and I’m applying to colleges and thinking about my future. Not just my future a few months from now or even a year from now, but my whole life: college, career, family, everything.
I’ve been accepted at Xavier University, and I’ve also applied to Miami University here in Ohio, as well as NYU and Columbia. I visited New York in December with my mom, and I really liked it! I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m so excited to have so many choices.
Throughout my recovery, I’ve tried to stay positive. It certainly wasn’t always easy, but now when I look back, I know that the explosion and the pain and the scars all happened in order to lead me to where I’m supposed to go in life, to find what I’m meant to do.
In addition to the book—which I’ll spend a lot of time this summer promoting—I’m also working with my family on the Kilee Gives Back Foundation. Last year we hosted our first golf scramble, which was a huge success, and now we’re focusing on adding more events and projects to raise money for Shriners and for other organizations and people in need.
It’s been 14 months since the accident. In some ways, my life is the same as it always was: school, soccer, family, friends. But in other ways, I know I’ll never be the same. And I’m grateful for it.
When I leave for college, wherever I decide to go, I know I’ll be ready for whatever life throws at me. And I’ll know how to make every day and every experience count.