Lisa Heller

Sweat dripping down my cheeks, arms pumping my body forward, my ponytail swinging from shoulder to shoulder, heart beating in my ear, I began the third lap and suddenly it felt like a boa constrictor was wrapping tighter and tighter around my neck… Eyelids heavy, I slowly opened my groggy eyes and there was a circle of coaches, nurses, teammates, my sister and mom standing over me, wide-eyed. Am I dreaming? My throat still felt as narrow as a straw and I was gasping for air. I peeked down at my hands, and they were unintentionally curled up into fists and I couldn’t uncurl them. My legs were tingling, prickling like needles. I tried to raise my left leg and it felt like 300 pounds. I heard someone whisper “she made it over the finish line and then just… collapsed”. Will I ever run again? This can’t be happening. “Lisa, breathe. Lisa!” Nurses were prodding me with wet towels and bagged ice, repeatedly saying my name and telling me to breathe, like I couldn’t remember myself. Am I dying? I lifted my head, looking around, confused, feeling defeated. I’m not done yet. Then I passed out again.


I woke up at the emergency care center and the doctor told me that I had VCD (Vocal Cord Dysfunction). My form of VCD made my throat close up into a tiny little tube while I ran. My body would get less than 2/3rds of the air the average person would normally receive when inhaling. I was scared, confused and crushed. How would my parents feel? Am I letting them down? The doctor told me that one exercise to treat my VCD was singing because the act itself would relax my vocal cords. I had sung in the past as a hobby but had never taken it seriously, and sure enough it got me through every race. I would sing the national anthem quietly to myself during races. I ended up passing out right after the finish line every race that I had run. This happened over 20 times! It took me a while to realize that it was singing that helped me to relax and feel better about myself. The struggle of trying to compete with VCD helped me to discover my real passion, music.


From that point on music became a stress reliever, creative outlet and my saving grace. At times, I would feel so overwhelmed from having this breathing complication on top of dealing with the pressures of being an everyday high school student. But sitting at that upright Steinway Piano allowed me to write down all of my worries and to sing and to play until the tears ran cold, then dry. The combination of writing music and singing my own songs helped me get through having a non-existent self esteem, feeling extremely self conscious and refusing to look in the mirror. The defining moment came during a bike trip across Europe. With the VCD under control, I found myself singing to my whole group in the middle of an impossible mountain incline, which helped them get through the rest of the grueling journey. After reaching the top of the Alps, I had realized that my singing could also be used to inspire other people and help them to get through tough times. I knew this was my calling and what I wanted to do with my life.


Last January, I recorded my most recent EP in Los Angeles. I was finally able to transfer all of my fears, excitement, thoughts and struggles into some new songs. My producer Jim McGorman (Avril Lavigne, Sabrina Carpenter) and I co-wrote a 4-song EP that captures these struggles, triumphs and dreams. Jim said, “I work with a lot of new artists, and Lisa sees things that others don’t. She is an incredibly insightful lyricist, making her songs unique and powerful. She has so many dimensions to her voice and, as a producer, it’s exciting to see where she takes each song”. I was finally able to capture the adversity I had overcome in a song called “Firewall.” All of these trials and tribulations that I had gone through and continue to go through brought me to this point and have given me the strength that I didn’t know I had before. These new songs are on that road to fulfilling that wish of hoping fans will listen and become inspired. So “Hope, hope for the best, hope for the rest of our life ‘til the day that we die”…

Fan Count: 20790