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B.C. man overcomes 'nightmare' burns to create 'dream come true' life

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When John Westhaver woke up in the hospital that day, he was terrified.

“What’s going on?! Where am I?!” John thought, realizing he was attached to countless machines and wrapped in bandages from head to toe. “What happened?!”

The last thing the then-18-year-old recalled was hanging out with his three friends. There was no memory of the fatal crash that made front page news, leaving John the sole survivor, now waking from a month-long coma.

“My whole world had changed,” John says. “I began living a nightmare.”

John suffered life-threatening burns over 75 per cent of his body.

“The pain was hell,” John says. “Hell on earth.”

The physical pain could be overwhelming. The emotional pain was unrelenting.

“I was devastated by the fact that I had lost those friends,” John says. “And I was like, ‘Who’s going to want to date me? Will I be alone forever? Will I have a family?’”

John says he learned to endure the trauma by developing a tough exterior fuelled by anger, until his dad encouraged him to forgive the driver of the other vehicle who caused the crash.

“At first I was like, ‘No way!’” John says.

But he took time to reflect and eventually did it.

“That simple act of forgiving him increased the quality of my life automatically, because I let go of a lot of that anger,” he says.

It was the first step in a journey of healing that eventually led John to stop suffering about his past and start being hopeful and courageous in his present.

“Why live in the past when your future’s ahead of you?” he says.

So John committed to turn his adversity into an opportunity, and began inspiring others through speaking engagements across North America.

He also tried online dating.

“To let somebody in to love you,” John says. “That’s the scariest thing in the world.”

But if you’re brave enough to open your heart, you just might find you're fortunate enough to find the perfect partner.

After countless “butterfly feeling” dates, Bri said “yes” to John’s proposal, followed by “I do” on their wedding day.

“If you would have told me that I would have this life, back when I woke up from the coma, when I was saying, ‘Why Me? Nobody’s ever going to love me again,’” John smiles. “I would have said, ‘You’re full of crap!’”

But love — it’s said — begets love. And now John, Bri and their three daughters are creating a life full of it.

“This is possible,” John smiles. “A guy that looks like me can have a happy, successful, full, rich life, like a rock star!”

You can turn your nightmares into the best dreams come true.

“And they’re still coming true,” John adds with a smile. “I just keep dreaming.” 

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