By Haleigh Santilli – 1851 Staff
Being an upbeat fashion student, one would never guess that junior Erin Bernier has fought three debilitating diseases all before she turned 20. She has suffered through moyamoya, pulmonary hypertension, fibromyalgia, and more than anyone can imagine.
When Bernier was 10 years old, she suffered a small stroke in the backseat of her mother’s car. Frantic and concerned, her mother rushed her to the hospital. It was revealed to her that she had moyamoya, which “affects the carotid arteries; the arteries that bring blood flow to your brain.” To add to her health problems, Bernier underwent a lung biopsy just a few months later, which resulted in her diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension.
By that point, Bernier was in a great deal of physical and emotional pain. A little over a year after she suffered the stroke and was diagnosed, she was told that in order to gain some sort of relief, she would have to have brain surgery. The operation brought a great deal of relief, but four to five years later she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Before Bernier’s diagnoses, doctors were constantly telling her she was fine and constant migraines and a small stroke were normal. While not reacting well to one of her cardiac catheterization tests, Bernier said, “One of the nurses came over and, basically told me […] to get over it […] basically screamed at me. I wasn’t the most behaved ten-year old, but I was a ten year old who was sick and scared.”
Bernier had her fair share of bad experiences while in the hospital, but her incredible doctors and her family are the people who kept her positive throughout it all. She accredits her mother as the person who was always by her side and her main confidant.
“If people are struggling with health issues, it would be best to find someone to help you through [it],” said Bernier.
She also recalls other kids her age who were struggling with the same problems she met in the hospital.
“It’s definitely inspiring to see and meet them, when they’re going through such difficult times,” said Bernier. “It’s nice to be able to meet someone in a similar situation and is still strong.”
Even though Bernier has faced medical obstacles in her life, and there is a risk of her moyamoya resurfacing, she is determined to not let them define or hinder her life. Her medical battles give her the motivation to work harder towards achieving her goals. Although her health issues forced her to grow up a little faster, she would not be the person she is today without dealing with them.
Bernier has a passion for creating accessories and fashion and hopes to have her own design company one day.
“For the most part, I don’t see much of a problem [with the diseases] anymore with my future career just because I’m doing a lot better than I had previously,” said Bernier.