‘Not a victim’: Burns survivor Carol Mayer dies
A BRAVE Cairns mum who inspired thousands with her tale of survival after sustaining burns 85 per cent of her body in a house fire has died.
Carol Ann Mayer endured more than 100 excruciating operations after her home was engulfed in flames in 2000.
Her toddler son, Zac, was rescued from the inferno without injury.
Doctors never expected Ms Mayer to last the night and even talked about switching off life support, but she never stopped fighting.
She spent eight weeks in a coma in Brisbane, with nine months of torturous skin grafts and reconstructive surgery to follow.
She rebuilt her life and used her story to inspire others, making the conscious choice to be a leader rather than a victim.
"I really wanted to send a message to other burn survivors to be proud and never afraid of the skin you're in and to hold your head high," Ms Mayer told the Cairns Post in 2018.
"It's not about what we look like, but to learn to love and accept ourselves the way we are.
"Burn survivors cannot turn back time, but with each day, you get better."
Ms Mayer completed a counselling course and became a tuckshop mum, and was ambassador for the Julian Burton Burns Trust.
Through that position she was a shoulder for other burns survivors to lean on, including those injured in the 2015 Ravenshoe gas explosion.
She appeared on the front cover of the 2013-14 Cairns White Pages.
In recent years she worked at the Holloways Beach Spar Express convenience store.
Ms Mayer told the Cairns Post last year she was a survivor, not a victim, after becoming involved with people involved in the Ravenshoe cafe explosion.
"When I heard about that, I went into combat mode and really wanted to help," she said.
"I had a few of the survivors say to me they could not stand being called a victim.
"They're a survivor. I knew that because I'm a burns survivor.
"When you're a victim, you're in a hospital, but when you're out of that bed and living your life, you're a survivor.
"You're not giving up.
"It's how you look at it.
"Whether you want to embrace it, give up, sink or swim.
"I chose to swim.
"It's about showing others that there is life after adversity."
News of her death is now filtering through the Cairns community with friends and family coming to grips with the loss of this beautiful woman.
Cairns woman Deszree Edwards issued a touching tribute on social media.
"You endured so many horrendous hurdles in life, and you still smiled with your gentle loving nature," she said.
"You touched all hearts you met.
"Your strength and determination is like nothing I've seen."
Ms Mayer had been battling cancer.
Tammy Smith also shared her kind words.
"I may have not known you that long but I felt like you understood me so well," she said.
"I am truly so saddened to hear you lost your fight with cancer.
"This year has taken yet again another amazing, gorgeous, inspiring, funny and strong person.
"Carol Ann Mayer fly high and higher and free our phoenix."
Originally published as 'Not a victim': Cairns burns survivor Carol Mayer dies