Lisa Marie Calabrese grew up in West Springfield, MA where she lived with her two parents and older sister. Lisa was blessed with a family that not only loved her but also supported her in everything she did. Throughout Lisa’s life, she enjoyed doing many things: boating, swimming, attending school events as well as hanging out with her family and friends. Lisa’s love for excitement and being around others lead her to cheerleading in middle and high school. Lisa always displayed a high sense of style and fashion that guided her to a career of cosmetology. Her personality was so vibrant that she forever lit up any room she entered.
At age 17 everything changed in Lisa’s life. Although we understand many people come to this disease for various reasons, Lisa’s story began with an abusive relationship that developed into low self-esteem and her journey began. Despite ending the relationship, signs of bulimia and anorexia became evident. After initially denying her problem, Lisa finally came to us asking for our help. She went through all the stages associated with this eating disorder: weight loss, dark circles around the eyes, being lethargic, and just not caring about anything. We immediately contacted her doctor to find out how to best deal with this illness. In spite of our best efforts to find answers, Lisa continued to decline. At this point we began to see not only the physical changes, but also the change in her personality. The lying and deception began; everything became secretive. Over the next few years everything seemed to go downhill rapidly, especially after she turned 18 and we could no longer monitor her health legally. SHE was now in control.
Lisa’s struggle with this disease led her to hospital runs, doctor’s visits, and therapy appointments three times a week. Due to the lack of specialized treatment for eating disorders in the Western MA area, Lisa had to seek treatment in the eastern part of the state, 120 miles away from home. The support of Lisa’s family was vital in her recovery, yet the nature of the distance made it difficult at times. Lisa’s family would travel each weekend the 120 miles to be part of her treatment. After one month of treatment, Lisa was discharged based upon her progress. Lisa returned home, attended cosmetology school, and worked all while battling this disease. However, as time passed, she regressed due to the lack of facilities that were fundamental towards her recovery.
We watched her struggle daily, still not getting any better. At this point the doctors were preparing us for what they called “Rock Bottom”. We lived with this fear each day for years. Lisa often spoke of how helpless she felt, how she wasn’t in control anymore, and how she did not choose this. Lisa once stated that she was “tired of fighting the fight.” The disease had taken over her mind and body. She fought so hard, but on February 11, 2009 at the age of 21 we lost our beautiful Lisa. She finally found the peace she fought so hard for.
The purpose of our efforts is to bring awareness to the often life threatening medical issues that are associated with eating disorders so that treatment of the behavior is resolved. Our fundraising efforts are to focus on bringing the necessary knowledge and understanding to the Western MA area.
Lisa’s Light of Hope… Bringing Eating Disorders out of the Darkness is a charitable fund created to raise awareness, support treatment and education in affiliation with Baystate Health Behavioral Health.