There are very few moments in your life where you meet someone that completely astounds you: this campus celebrity makes you realize that your petty problems, boyfriend drama and school stress are completely surmountable. Marie-Pier Emery is a 21 year old U Ottawa student from Gatineau. She is in her 3rd year of Civil Law and International Development and Globalization. However, she is no ordinary 3rd year student. She suffers from a genetic and fatal disease called Cystic Fibrosis and she has suffered from it her whole life. Imagine drowning in your own lungs due to heavy mucus lining your pulmonary arteries. Imagine having to take hundreds of pills a week so that your body can digestneeded carbohydrates and fat and undergoing hours of medical treatment on a daily basis. That is Marie-Pier’s everyday life ; yet she is still in school whilst continuously fighting her disease.
Marie-Pier’s pulmonary function is only at 65% of a healthy woman, making it difficult for her to complete daily tasks such as climbing stairs and walking. It is a struggle to fit everything into her daily schedule, which includes classes, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, medical appointments and treatments. Her daily medical treatments consist of wearing a vest that replaces physiotherapy and helps to clear her lungs. When she is not sick, she takes approximately 25 pills a day.
The constant treatments are not the only way Cystic Fibrosis affects Marie-Pier: she gets constant headaches due to sinus problems and she has to constantly monitor what she eats and drinks as to not get dehydrated or suffer from malnutrition since her body cannot digest the food she eats.
Marie-Pier was only supposed to live to be 20 years old – she is now 21. Cystic Fibrosis has not stopped Marie-Pier from doing what she wants to do. Regardless of the fatality of the disease, she does not want to stay home or work part-time. She needs to be out there. This is why she makes deals with her doctors to stay in school as a full-time student, to volunteer for various organizations, to work at the Canadian International Development Agency, to stay involved in the school community, to have a social life and to continue living like a healthy young woman.
While Marie-Pier says that the Shinerama campaign on campus has helped her with her fight of Cystic Fibrosis, she has impacted hundreds of people with her bravery and determination. Not only has she served as an inspiration, but she has also been a wonderful help to Shinerama and the uOttawa philanthropic community. Marie-Pier is an inspiration, but she is also simply put: an awesome person! If you forget about the Cystic Fibrosis, she is a warm, funny and intelligent girl that will do great things in her life. So thank you Marie-Pier Emery for astounding the University of Ottawa community!
Marie-Pier pictured on the right, after the Shine Ceremony held on Sept 4th during Shine Day 2012
Photo credits: Stephane Mukunzi
For more information on Shinerama and Cystic Fibrosis please visit :