A lot of people get freaked out when they see a picture of themselves on Facebook they don’t like. But for Aimee Copeland, sharing this photo online must have taken unbelievable courage. Her story will inspire you.
Copeland was raised in Gwinnett County, Georgia. And in 2012 everything was going well for the 24-year-old master’s scholar, who was studying humanistic psychology at the University of Georgia.
That year, on a sunny day in May, Copeland and a few of her buddies headed down to the local river to cool off and have a little fun. But, unfortunately, all would not go to plan.
When the group arrived at the Little Tallapoosa River they found an amateur zip-line. And while it didn’t look like the safest thing in the world, the friends decided to give it a go anyway. It would turn out to be a big mistake.
Copeland got onto the zip-line and began to whizz across the river. But then, out of nowhere, the wire snapped. The young student plummeted towards the water and, on smashing into some rocks, received a deep cut in her leg.
It took 22 staples to close the gash in Copeland’s leg. But despite the procedure being a success, she began to feel strange soon afterwards. And so it was back to hospital for some more tests.
And that’s when the doctors came to a shocking conclusion. Copeland had contracted a rare bacterial infection by the name of necrotizing fasciitis. And if not treated quickly, this horrific flesh-consuming bug can be life threatening.
Unfortunately for the master’s student, the lethal infection had already done some serious damage. In fact, five of Copeland’s major organs were on their way out, and so doctors needed to take drastic action – and fast.
But tragically, the only way to save Copeland’s life was to amputate. And so surgeons removed part of the young woman’s abdomen, as well as her left leg. But her ordeal, sadly, was still far from over.
A few days later, doctors realized that Copeland needed even more surgery. And unfortunately, they had no choice but to amputate her right foot and both her hands. It’s impossible to imagine how the young woman must have been feeling.
Even after the operations, Copeland was still in grave danger. The operations had given her a shot at survival, but she would still need to spend the next fortnight in intensive care. And her mom, dad, sister and boyfriend, Ben, sat beside her bed the whole time.
Finally, however, Copeland was well enough to leave hospital, and she moved in with her parents. But there was still a long way to go on the road to recovery. “There were many days when it was so frustrating I would get angry and scream and sob,” she told the Daily Mail. It was going to be a long, hard struggle.
Gradually, Copeland began to adapt to her new life as a full amputee. And, slowly but surely, she got better at using her prosthetic hands for everyday things like making a call on her cellphone.
It’s now been four years since the accident and Copeland has even found the time to complete her master’s degree in humanistic psychology. In fact, she’s now even studying for another degree, this time in social work. What an inspirational woman.
Copeland has also become an advocate for amputees, a role that sees her travel up and down the country to talk at conferences. But in June 2016 she did something that would make her famous the world over.
It was something so simple, but something that took a huge amount of courage. Because while vacationing in the Caribbean, Copeland posted a picture to Facebook of herself in a bikini. And not long afterwards, the post went viral.
“It has taken me a long time to become comfortable with and accept my new body,” she wrote on Facebook. “We are ALL made with imperfections and there is so much beauty in our flaws.”
The photo received more than 14,000 likes and almost 1,000 comments in the first ten days alone. “You are beautiful,” wrote one commenter. “It radiates from you not only on the outside but from within.”
Copeland’s story soon got picked up by the likes of People and The Huffington Post. It was such a brave and empowering statement to make, after all.
Copeland’s future is bright. She’s currently dating a new guy called Stephen, an English teacher. “I’ve met my dream man,” she told the Daily Mail. “[He] loves me exactly the way I am and thanks to him I feel more gorgeous, sexier and confident than ever.”