Since going through a liver transplant in 1993 due to undiagnosed hemorrhaging tumors, Amy Tippins has dedicated her time and efforts to helping other transplant patients. Tippins is an Atlanta native and the founder and CEO of RockScar Love Designs, a clothing company that focuses on helping people with physical and emotional scars. In partnership with Live Wright Society, RockScar Love Designs launched the “Scars R Sexy” campaign in March in an effort to give people a platform to tell their stories.
What makes the “Scars R Sexy” campaign unique?
There is zero prejudice. Scars are being celebrated for the beauty that they are in this campaign, and for the beauty that we all have inside us and out. We are providing a place of safety for people to share their most difficult moments in order to find their own healing and to help others heal.
What was the inspiration behind creating RockScar Love Designs?
My transplant and my childhood experience growing up were the main catalysts for RockScar Love. For starters, I have a really hard time seeing people use their life’s circumstances as an excuse. Experiences are given to you in order to teach you how to do something. It’s about how to achieve greatness, not why you can’t. The second reason is that I experienced a tremendous amount of bullying from students, coaches and adults growing up because I was “different” in their eyes due to my sickness. I wanted young people to see that through heartache can come something absolutely beautiful and amazing—life! Being made new! Empowerment! If you are picked on in the early years, it just means you have something epic in line for your future. What better way to share those stories than through talking about our scars of all types?
As a transplant patient yourself, what made you decide to become a speaker and mentor to other transplant patients?
In 1993, being a liver transplant recipient was very rare, and to add to it, I was a teenager and didn’t really have someone I could reach out to who could relate. So when given the opportunity, I wanted to share what had been self-taught with others who were facing their own challenges and inspire them to reach for greatness. Georgia Transplant Foundation started their Mentorship Program along with so many other programs and I just had to be a part of it.
What has been the most interesting thing you’ve discovered about yourself when you went through the process of having a transplant?
When I thought I had nothing left in me to give or keep going forward, I had to remind myself to dig deep inside and find that extra push. Going through the process was the hardest thing in my life. The physical side is unreal. What your body goes through is something not many people even think about, but that is not even the hard part. Your mind is what changes. You deal with “survivor’s guilt” in some form or another. Some days it just seems easier to stay in bed with the thought always lingering in the back of your mind that there could be a day that your organ will go on strike again. I don’t let any of that affect me, and I do not know how I do it some days, to be honest. Now, I’m not saying I don’t have rough days, because I certainly do! I just have learned how to control how it affects my life. I have also discovered that the more I am able to give back, the more vulnerable I have to choose to be with my feelings, and that is not always an easy thing to allow to happen.
What inspires you in your daily life?
God, my niece and nephew, the emails I get from people telling me how “Scars R Sexy” gave them a voice and helped heal something inside of them.
What do you do to stay healthy and active?
I love spin classes, weights, yoga and my dog. I try to eat healthy, I meditate and pray, and I love music! I also have to stay close to the positive people in my life and admit when I can’t do it all myself.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Two phrases that were not as much advice, but words of encouragement that have helped to make me the person I am today and shape what I do: “You are worthy” and “To tell someone that you believe in them is to have faith in all that they do. Have faith in them as people. I believe in you.” Both statements were made to me by the same person. Both have forever changed me because they reminded me that I am worthy, but that it is my responsibility to make something of that, and if I don’t, then that is my failure as a contributing member of society.
Who are the people and/or professionals in your life that help you be your best self?
My doctor, Andrei Stieber, my sister, my niece and nephew and an amazing group of friends.