Guest Blog: The Human Spirit Is Not Broken

There are moments when the human body may be stripped of its physical skills, but the human spirit is not broken.

Here is the story of a lady who is a testament to that. The year was 1989 and 26-year-old Laura Chagnon was merely walking down a Boston street. She didn’t know that would be the day her life would take a 180 degree turn. She was the victim of a senseless assault by one or more people; the detectives never caught the individual(s).

Poet Laura Chagnon
Poet Laura Chagnon

More important was the result, one minute ambulatory, Laura was now quadriplegic, legally blind with a head injury. To this day, her short-term memory is not very good. She was in a coma for 5 weeks and came out of it feeling a sense of loss. Her legs were no longer her legs because now she could not walk. She could no longer use her hands.

Four years in physical rehabilitation facilities followed. Doctors told her parents that her cognitive ability was minimal and to save the aggravation and put her in an institution for the rest of her life. They refused, their unconditional love was stronger than the doctor’s advice. The doctors said Laura would be a vegetable, still her parents would not break.

In 1993, Laura returned to live at home with her parents. She had caregivers around the clock to be her eyes and hands. She would not let life be a pity party and wanted to be a productive member of society. Laura started to dictate sentences to her caregivers and the sentences evolved into poems. One poem after another, each day more poems. Now, her identity changed, she didn’t feel like a quadriplegic woman, she proudly said she was a poet. Laura’s poems were of very good quality and were printed in local newspapers. She told people she was some day going to be a published poet with her book of poetry to be shared with the world.Laura Chagnon

She had no malice for whomever assaulted her. Laura simply said, “I traded my legs for the opportunity to write poetry.”

Let’s fast forward to the present. Laura has written over 5,000 poems. The doctors would be astonished. She is a shining example of overcoming adversity and not ever doubting the human spirit. Oh, by the way, that crazy dream of hers, to become a published poet: Laura met a publisher in June of 2013. He read some of her poems and was amazed. He said, “Laura Chagnon deserves to be published.”

For more than 20 years, her poetry was basically a well kept secret. If you read her works, I think you would agree she can hold her own with any poet out there. Now anybody can be the judge of that. Her published book, “Never Touched A Pen” the inspiring poetry of Laura Chagnon can be ordered at

Thomas Damoulakis

15 thoughts on “Guest Blog: The Human Spirit Is Not Broken

  1. Samantha March 12, 2014 / 8:17 am

    This is an absolutely astonishing story. Laura is here to give the rest of us courage to keep going through the times of cruelty and misunderstanding. Thank you for posting this.


  2. Alexi March 12, 2014 / 2:20 pm

    I cannot imagine the unspeakable horror that Laura went through. I do not think I could forgive deeply like this under similar circumstances. I wonder how long it took her to forgive? Being able to write poetry is a good clinical indication not only of brain recovery but also of healed emotions. She is an inspiration.


    • Tom March 13, 2014 / 1:26 am

      First off, Laura appreciates all your comments and she will personally respond as well. Laura has a very strong Christian spirit. In the 14 years I have been with her, I’ve never seen her show anger towards anyone. Whoever assaulted her, she holds no malice because she knows God has a plan for her. She is the official church poet at her church and feels God is very much with her all the time. She says some of her poems come directly from Him. There are two reason why she had her book published. One is because she has always had a strong desire to share her words with others. The second is Laura wants to donate proceeds of the book to her church. You folks are great, thanks for all of your comments.


  3. Greg H March 12, 2014 / 6:31 pm

    I now wonder if her forgiving actually helped to heal her brain. She was supposed to be in a “vegetative” state and now writes poetry that is so high quality that it is published. Maybe forgiveness helped restore that organ of her body.


  4. Harriet M. March 12, 2014 / 8:15 pm

    Thank you for posting this. Alexi, you are right that she is an inspiration. The human spirit can be so very strong. And we cannot discount the grace of God on this. It looks to me like there was a lot of mercy on her despite all the hardship from the thugs who assaulted her.


  5. Irene March 14, 2014 / 7:12 pm

    This story is one in a million, truly amazing and inspirational. You have done a great deal for the world, do you know that? Your story deserves to go out far and wide.


  6. Robert March 14, 2014 / 7:19 pm

    Laura, you are a shining light in a dark world. I have a friend who uses the expression, “We are punching holes in the darkness.” You, Laura, are doing just that, punching holes in the darkness. Thank you.


  7. Chris March 14, 2014 / 9:13 pm

    Laura shows us that we should not listen to the experts who tell us what to expect typically. If one’s soul is not typical, then do not expect a typical result. Expect much, much more. Laura did and now she is our example.


  8. Deborah March 15, 2014 / 7:04 am

    Laura, you are a Christ-figure. By this I mean that you have taken on the injustices of others so that you can transmit love rather than more hatred. God must be very proud of you. You are showing us a better way, the way of love. Thank you.


  9. J Alexander March 15, 2014 / 10:26 am

    It is obvious that Laura has found great meaning in what she has suffered. The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl observed that finding meaning in what we suffer is a path to wholeness. Laura has found that path. I hope that some day I too will be squarely on this same path.


  10. Penelope March 15, 2014 / 10:57 am

    Thank you, Mr. Damoulakis, for introducing us to this story of courage and over-coming. I for one am putting my own suffering in perspective because of this story. Yes, you are right. The human spirit is not broken when we can continue to love.


  11. Tom Damoulakis March 16, 2014 / 2:07 pm

    All of your comments have touched Laura deeply. Much appreciation to all of you. It’s a blessing that I can spend every day with my hero. Watching her craft her poetry is amazing. She has a work ethic to be envied. She loves life and she loves crafting poems with a wish to share her poetry with the world.


  12. Laura Chagnon March 16, 2014 / 4:29 pm

    Thank you for all your inspiring comments. Your kind and insightful words make everything I do worthwhile. Having a book of my poetry published is a culmination of my dreams. To share my words with others has always been my goal. Financial gain is not the purpose of my book as I am donating proceeds to my church. If any of you wish to order a copy of my book “Never Touched A Pen” you can do so through


  13. Sophita March 16, 2014 / 9:28 pm

    Laura and Tom, you are making me feel like crying. You truly have touched my heart. You are two special people.


  14. Robert March 16, 2014 / 9:33 pm

    Laura and Tom, I just posted the following on our Facebook page for the International Forgiveness Institute:

    Do You Want Your Heat Warmed?

    Take a look at our most recent blog post ( Here is the response from a poet who was supposed to die because of brutal treatment. Please consider purchasing her book of poetry:

    Laura Chagnon 3/16/2014 16:29:56
    Thank you for all your inspiring comments. Your kind and insightful words make everything I do worthwhile. Having a book of my poetry published is a culmination of my dreams. To share my words with others has always been my goal. Financial gain is not the purpose of my book as I am donating proceeds to my church. If any of you wish to order a copy of my book “Never Touched A Pen” you can do so through


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