Lisa's unique life journey has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX News networks. People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo!, and many other media outlets around the globe have also covered Lisa’s ability to approach tough obstacles with tenacity, humor, and perspective. She is a professional speaker, author, and educator.
Lisa has suffered from chronic pain, disfigurement, and serious health traumas for the past 32 years. She inspires others by sharing her uphill battle with the rare autoimmune disease; scleroderma, she was diagnosed with at age 10. After the birth of her second child, Lisa survived the loss of two organs, temporary paralysis, and eight major surgeries during a 218-day hospital stay. She now speaks with healthcare professionals in an effort to enhance their understanding of the patient’s perspective. Lisa also provides keynote addresses to Med-Tech and pharmaceutical companies to remind them that behind every product and sale, is a patient. She also offers motivational keynotes, inspiring her audiences to face life’s obstacles grit, humor, and resilience.
In 2015, Lisa launched a movement to promote acceptance after the Facebook Ad team rejected a photo of her bare face, stating it may draw high negative feedback. Her campaign went viral and garnered international media coverage. She shares this experience with audiences interested in redefining beauty, self-advocacy, facing fears, or embracing differences.
Lisa offers educational workshops/ presentations on acceptance, anti-bullying, and standing up for one’s self and others. As a public school educator for 20 years, she blends her own childhood memories with her experiences as a mother and teacher to send a powerful message to students, parents, and school staff. She is the author of Does This Hospital Gown Come With Sequins? and has been published in Elle, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Dr. Oz, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Chicago Parent, and more.
- A chronically ill mother of two recalls her near-death experience after the birth of her second child. Lisa Helfand bares her soul from a hospital bed in Chicago, at times feeling a million miles from help, even when surrounded by medicine and many latex-gloved hands hoping to cure her with standard protocols. Her condition confounds doctors and family, while her internal struggle is muffled by a tracheotomy. How long can one woman survive under these conditions? With two children to think of, and a marriage to keep afloat (not to mention carpools, holidays, and unforgettable first moments in her children’s lives rushing on without her), she endures unimaginable pain and ICU psychosis, without letting her sense of humor escape her. Lisa’s ultimate survival despite medical malfeasance, family friction, and maddening days of being locked in with her thoughts will appeal to a wide American audience. Women will identify with Lisa’s memoir as she struggles with marriage, parenting, friendships and society’s obsession with outer beauty. The story will move professional caregivers to a higher level of empathy for their patients. Chronic disease sufferers will see themselves in the book and feel validated and inspired. Her road to recovery is documented with humor and poise in this debut memoir.
- Parenting Media Association’s Editorial Award for Personal Essay (2017)
- Scleroderma Foundation Messenger of Hope Award (2016)
- ConvaTec's Great Comebacks Award (2015)
- Marjorie Wedell Outstanding Educator (2013)
- District 69 Educator of the Year (2008)
- Disney Teacher of the Year Nominee (1999)