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Vancouver home to its very own Super Girl

By Tyler Orton, 24 Hours Vancouver

Anais Poirier chops her hair to raise money for BC Children's Hospital pain clinic. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Anais Poirier chops her hair to raise money for BC Children's Hospital pain clinic. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

As Anais Poirier sat in the emergency room, writhing in agony with tears gushing from her eyes, her mother begged doctors to give the 11-year-old girl something - anything - to take away the mystifying pain. Doctors gave her nothing that day.

Today the Vancouver girl - who remembers when doctors, friends and family believed she was faking pain to get out of school - is giving all she has to ensure others get the help she never received.

Marching out to field Sunday at the B.C. Lions game, Poirier accepted a $1,000 donation from Scotiabank, the latest chunk of change she's raised for the BC Children's Hospital pain clinic.

"I'm excited," said Poirier, who had an original fundraising goal of $1,000 but has now collected a whopping $9,500.

A mild foot injury in February 2010 triggered the onset complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) - a condition where the brain continues receiving pain signals even after an injury has healed. For six long months, Poirier lived with the chronic pain - as well as the skepticism of others.

"I was depressed," Poirier said. The sharp and sociable student, who spent her free time competing in gymnastics, was relegated to lying on the couch watching TV instead of going to class and playing sports.

After waiting months for an appointment at the pain clinic at BC Children's Hospital, with a staff of just two doctors, she was immediately diagnosed with CRPS.

The news relieved and elated Poirier, who didn't forget those who doubted her.

"When I found out my diagnosis, I was just thinking, 'Ha-ha. They were wrong, suckers!'"

And when an appendectomy a year later left her with nerve damage that also caused chronic pain, she knew exactly where to get treated.

In addition to Sunday's donation, Poirier raised $8,500 for the clinic after agreeing to chop off her long hair for the cause. She's now in the running as a Scotiabank Game Changer, a campaign offering $100,000 to a local hero who has touched the community.

Poirier said if she wins, the money would go towards training doctors to better recognize CRPS.

For now, she's just happy to make a return to rhythmic gymnastics, and even placed second in her level during a Western Canada competition.

"(Life) is better than it was before."

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