Miracle burns survivor
This miracle burns survivor defied the odds to find the man of her dreams
When brave Bianca Aravena looked at her reflection, she crumpled in tears. The scars that covered 65 per cent of her body were forever a reminder of her nightmarish ordeal.
“I looked like a monster,” the courageous Newcastle-based receptionist says. “I thought no one would ever love me.”
But Bianca was wrong. There was someone out there who not only saw the beautiful woman beneath the scars but fell head over heels in love with her. Troy Hopkins, 30, says he adores the scars that serve as a reminder of what a courageous woman she is.
Now 31, Bianca was just 14 when she suffered a most horrendous attack. She was at a park with two friends when she bumped into her ex-boyfriend and his mate messing around with a lit ice-cream container filled with petrol. “He kicked the container towards me,” Bianca says. The flames engulfed her, turning her into a human fireball.
Paramedics arrived and rushed Bianca to Sydney Children’s Hospital, where she had 13 operations to treat third-degree burns covering her legs, buttocks, and the right side of her body, face and neck. Her injuries were so severe she was put in an induced coma for three months to recover.
The attacker was found guilty of grievous bodily harm and given a community service sentence, a lenient punishment that baffled Bianca, who has been on a mission since to push for harsher sentences for similar crimes.
She wants Australia to adopt Judy’s Law, an Ohio, US, legislation where perpetrators are sentenced to an additional six years in prison if their victims are left disfigured.
“My burns were so ugly I thought nobody would ever love me,” Bianca says, adding she struggled so much with her injuries she tried to take her own life.
But one person championed her beauty – her mum Isabel. “Someone will love you for who you are,” she promised.
And 17 years on, as Bianca was struggling to love herself again, she found her soulmate, on dating website Plenty of Fish. “I told Troy I’d been burnt but he didn’t mind,” says Bianca, who has had numerous tattoos to cover the scars that shamed her. “I hated the way I looked and thought my life was over,” she remembers.
But all that changed when she met Troy. After just three months of dating, they knew they’d both found The One. “I didn’t notice her scars. I love everything about her,” says the labourer, who is also a burns survivor.
“I’m in a position now that I never thought I’d be in,” Bianca says proudly.
“I’m happy and totally in love.”
‘My burns were so ugly I thought nobody would ever love me’
Bianca was in an induced coma for three months and “died” four times. Troy proposed to Bianca in Noosa, and now the pair are planning a wedding, and a family to follow!