University of Houston cheerleader with life-changing diagnosis hopes to inspire others

A University of Houston cheerleader who received a life-changing medical diagnosis is hoping her experience will make your life better. It’s a powerful Positively Houston story of inspiration and encouragement.

Chloe Burke was just a teenager when she began getting light-headed, passing out and having abnormal heart tests but her story doesn't end there. She's laughing and living out loud now. However, a year ago something was happening to her even sometimes as she cheered. 

“We were stunting and all of a sudden they like popped me off (the ground) and as soon as my feet hit the ground I passed out. It was really scary,” Burke explains. 

Doctors initially didn't take the 19-year-old seriously.

”My chest would close up. I'd get arm pain. I'd be sweating. I'd be like crouched over, passing out in class. I would get so light-headed that my eyes would lose vision. I couldn’t see. I went to several cardiologists and a lot of them were like oh you're young it's a blood pressure thing,” she told FOX 26.

After seven months, she finally found a cardiologist who listened. Turns out Chloe had a rare Myocardial bridge. Most of her coronary artery tunneled through the heart rather than resting on top.

“So anytime the heart pumps, your oxygen and your blood from your blood vessel gets restricted in the artery because the artery gets squeezed and squeezed and squeezed”.

In May 2019, she had open heart surgery to fix it, leaving an eight-inch scar on her chest, which she refuses to hide.

“Your scars are what make you beautiful because your scars tell a story about what you've been through,” she says.

She's now encouraging others to live healthy, enjoy loved ones and never believe a unique characteristic is a flaw.

“That's a part of my wanting to show my scar, to help other girls know you can do whatever you want,” she says. 

"Today I Choose Joy" isn't just a framed sign hanging on her wall. Staying positive is a way of life for this UH cheerleader, who is now 21 years old.

”Each day truly is a gift," she tells us. 

Chloe is planning to compete in the 2020 Miss Houston Pageant in April and yes, she has chosen a gown that shows off her scar.