CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atrium Health CMC has a unique trauma support network that’s helping survivors heal. 

“I was doing 130 miles an hour on a motorcycle on 485," Stephen Shope said, recalling the crash that left him without both arms. "And an SUV came into my lane." 

Shope is one of many trauma survivors that now volunteers for Atrium's Trauma Survivors Network.

“I worked in a grocery store and they walked in to rob the store," another volunteer and survivor, Alberto Cedano, said. “I was shot. I woke up 13 days later.”

For people who live through something that could have killed them, it's a lot to take in.

“I didn’t want to get depressed I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself or second-guess myself," Cedano recalled.

Cedano and Shope know that better than anyone.

“For every trauma patient they’re going to have to go through some sort of healing process, in my opinion," Shope said. 

With Atrium’s Trauma survivors network, volunteers who have experienced trauma themselves, like Shope and Cedano, meet with trauma patients to lend an empathetic ear and offer hope.

“Seeing someone who has survived those injuries and has a new normal it really helps them psychologically to say maybe I can do that too," said Dr. William Miles, a trauma and critical care surgeon at Atrium CMC.

Dr. Miles says the program has proved to be critical in patient’s mental healing.

"I consider it a ministry of sorts to help patients through traumatic injury," he said.

He says the volunteers are a critical part of that. 

“What I tell patients is, look, let’s not focus on the things you can’t control right now," Shope said. "We can just focus on your healing.” 

Shope and Cedano say the survivors they mentor give them strength, too.

“I feel that sometimes even though we’re there to help the patient, I believe they also help me," Cedano said. 

To learn more about the Trauma Survivors network, click here.

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