Carolyn before the shooting

Growing up an only child, Carolyn and her mother were inseparable. Throughout high school, Carolyn was a star athlete in basketball and track. In college, Carolyn studied to become a drug and alcohol counselor. There she dreamed of getting married and starting a family of her own.

When Carolyn met Terrence Kelly, she thought she found the man of her dreams. Soon they moved in together. "In the beginning," Carolyn says, "the relationship was like any relationship. We got along real good."

But after just a few months, Terrence began to show a much darker side. "He got very jealous," Carolyn says. "I wasn't allowed to wear things that showed off my figure. I was only able to associate with my immediate family. I wasn't allowed to talk to my male cousins because he didn't believe they were my cousins. He was verbally abusive."

Then the emotional abuse turned violent. "I remember getting beat up for dyeing my hair," Carolyn says. "He didn't think that that was ladylike." Despite constant abuse, Carolyn stayed in the relationship for eight years. "I was in love," she says, "and I thought that he was going to change...and that I could change him."

December 5, 2003, Carolyn's boyfriend Terrence came home to the apartment that he shared with Carolyn and her mother. Believing another man was in the house, which was not the case, he flew into a jealous rage. He grabbed a gun and shot Carolyn's mother in the stomach. He then shot Carolyn in the head at point blank range.

Before ultimately dying of her injuries, Carolyn's mother made it to a neighbor's apartment and the neighbor called 911. Entering the grizzly crime scene, police officers discovered blood and bits of bone sprayed everywhere. They assumed Carolyn was dead. "When the officer came in the apartment," Carolyn remembers, "I grabbed him on the ankle to let him know that I was alive."

Carolyn was in the hospital three months before she saw her face. "I took it upon myself," she says, "to go in the bathroom and remove the bandages. ... I saw that I didn't have a right eye or a jaw. The whole left side of my face was just empty. There was nothing there at all, just a big empty space. I felt horrible. I felt that I looked horrible. I didn't even want to look at myself. I felt that if I didn't want to look at myself, I felt that no one else would want to look at me either."
Carolyn and Oprah

A year and a half after the gruesome shooting, Terrence was tried for the murder of Carolyn's mom and attempted murder of Carolyn. He was convicted and received the maximum of two life sentences in prison.

After the jury delivered their verdict, Carolyn read a statement to the man who robbed her of her outer beauty, but not her spirit. "Terrence," she said, "since you did this to me, I have learned that what does not kill you in life will make you stronger. You took away from me the one thing that I loved so dearly, and that was my mother. At least you get to see your mother even if you are in prison. Can you even imagine what it was like for me to wake up in the hospital and learn that not only was my mother dead, but that I had lost half my face? I have decided to take my life back, and I want you to know that you no longer have control over me. I can honestly say that I forgive you. The world now knows me as the woman without a face. I would rather be remembered as the woman who would be a survivor."

Carolyn says that in her dreams, she's still the old Carolyn. "I still dream of myself with my face a lot of times," she says. "A lot of times I have the dream where I have my new face. But I'm not able to see it. I'm always looking from the back."
Dr. Alford

Carolyn has been accepted into a medical program called Face to Face. The Methodist Hospital in Houston will cover the costs of her reconstructive surgery. Five doctors have donated their time and skills. Dr. Gene Alford is head of the surgical team that's already begun the painstaking process that will give Carolyn a face.

"Our goal," Dr. Alford says, "is for Carolyn to go out in public and look normal, not have people stare at her. We won't be able to reconstruct a face that looks exactly like the one she was born with. No one can do that."

Carolyn's first facial surgery lasted a grueling nine hours, and she's facing five more reconstructive surgeries.
Computer image of reconstructed face

Dr. Alford shows a computer-generated image of what Carolyn's face might look like if the surgeries are completely successful. Carolyn has been having problems smelling, so she will have a prosthetic nose to preserve appearance and function.

"The endings that allow you to smell, the nerve endings, are [currently] at about the level of the eye [on Carolyn]," Dr. Alford says. "The reason she has difficulty smelling is there's nothing to guide the air over those endings. A nose serves to guide the air through the nasal passages to make contact with the smell nerves."
Carolyn and Dale

Carolyn has always wanted to thank the man who saved her life. Dale, an EMT who was on the scene after Carolyn was shot, had to fish bits of bone and teeth out of Carolyn's mouth so she could breathe.

"This young lady has the heart of a lion," Dale says. "She has a will to live that I've never seen before. She's done us all very proud."

"It's a blessing to finally meet you and just thank you for doing what you did to save my life," Carolyn says. "I know you did everything in your power to try to save my mother's life, and I just thank you. God bless you."
Santia, became bulimic trying to please husband

When 28-year-old Santia met her husband Fabian, she thought her years of worrying about her weight were over—she believed she had met someone who loved her despite being overweight. After a whirlwind romance, they married, but after a couple of months, Santia says she realized the honeymoon was over.

"He would always tell me he would love me more if I lost weight," Santia says. "I started doing different diets, but nothing would work. I would just gain weight again. I joined the gym and he didn't think that would work."

Stressed out by Fabian's growing disgust, Santia's weight climbed to over 300 pounds. She made the decision to have gastric bypass surgery. But despite her continued weight loss from the surgery, Santia says her husband wasn't supportive or satisfied with how she looked. She decided to take drastic measures to lose more weight.

"Standing on the scale and seeing that it was only two pounds [lost], that's when my bulimia started," Santia says. "I started vomiting three or sometimes four times after anything that I would eat."
Santia and Oprah

Santia regrets having the weight loss surgery to please Fabian. She says that if she could change the past, she would—she's now in the process of getting a divorce.

"It's not an easy way out, just having the surgery," Santia says. "It's not over after the surgery. And the most important thing is to do it for yourself, for your health, and not for anyone else. ... I'm working on turning things around for myself. I'm working on dealing with my bulimia. That's the most important thing right now, because it's gotten out of control."
Michelle, suburban mom who drugged her kids

On the outside, Michelle, a single mother of three children, looked like a typical suburban mother. On the inside, however, she says she, like a lot of moms, was falling apart. Michelle had recently filed for bankruptcy and gone through a divorce. With bills piling up while she also tried to go to school and put food on the table, Michelle says she couldn't handle the pressure.

One afternoon, Michelle hit her breaking point. Not able to deal with her bickering children that day, she put Xanax in their juice. When she saw her 5-year-old began to tire, Michelle panicked and called 911. After hospital testing and staying overnight for observation, Michelle's three children were still healthy. But after being held in jail for four days, and losing custody of her children and losing a lot of friends, Michelle's life was forever changed.
Michelle and Oprah

Michelle now shares custody of her children with her ex-husband. She has a message for other stressed-out moms—reach out for help before it's too late.

"I want them to know that [they should] just make a call," Michelle says. "Call your physician's office, your pediatrician's office. Just try and get into a support group, because they're out there. Call a neighbor to say, 'Can you come sit with my kids for 10 minutes? I need to take a walk.'"