For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2012

Eating Disorder Program at LHSC continues to bring hope to families


(LONDON, Ontario) – February 6-10 is Eating Disorders Week in Canada, but for one area family, every day is a reminder that eating disorders can strike anyone, at any time.

When eight-year-old Dawson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January 2007, his family had no idea that his fight with cancer was not the only challenge they were about to face. Dawson was in the midst of his cancer treatment when he was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and admitted to the Eating Disorders Program at London Health Sciences Centre.

"Complete and utter devastation," says Dawson's mom, Shannon Malolepszy, of how she felt when learning of Dawson's diagnoses. "There really are no words that can describe how we felt. We had already been through so much with his cancer and to realize Dawson now had another life-threatening illness to battle just about put us over the edge."

Since opening its doors ten years ago, over 490 patients have been diagnosed and treated through the Eating Disorder Program at LHSC.

The term 'eating disorder' covers a group of illnesses that include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders-not otherwise specified (including binge-eating disorder). They are the third most common chronic illnesses in girls, but over the past few years the occurrence in boys has been increasing.

It is unknown why some people develop an eating disorder. Studies show there are multiple factors that can increase an individual's risk, including genetics, anxiety or depression, environmental factors and certain personality traits. According to friends and family, Dawson is an outgoing, fun, loving child who is very resilient. He is also very driven and hard on himself; "a trait that is often seen in children with an eating disorder", says Dr. Leanna Isserlin, psychiatrist with the Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders Program at LHSC.

The Eating Disorders Program at LHSC uses a family-based approach to treatment. During Dawson's inpatient treatment his parents visited him daily to participate in meal support, and as an outpatient they joined him for his regular appointments. "The family plays an integral role in the patient's treatment," says Dr. Isserlin. "Parents know their child and their family best. This makes them an important and valuable member of the health care team."

Today Dawson, now twelve years old, is 'doing amazing', according to Shannon. His last chemotherapy treatment was in April 2010 and he is in full remission. He has also fully recovered from the eating disorder and has never relapsed. When asked what was critical to Dawson's success, Shannon is quick to give praise to the Eating Disorder Team, as well as the staff and physicians of the London Regional Cancer Program.

Dr. Isserlin and the Eating Disorder Team at LHSC continue to work with family physicians and community partners to increase awareness of the program. Although the current program is for children 18 years or younger, a proposal for an Adult Eating Disorders Program has been approved by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and will open later in 2012.

"Establishing the adult program furthers our commitment to deliver high quality patient care through exceptional experiences, extraordinary people and engaging partnership," said Bonnie Adamson, President and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre.

"We are so grateful to Dawson's Eating Disorder team," says Shannon, "It was one of the darkest periods of our lives, but it is all behind us now."

Media interviews:
Shannon and Dawson Malolepszy will be available for in-person interviews today from 12-2pm. Availability exists for telephone interviews throughout the week with the family and members of the Eating Disorders team. If you would like to schedule an interview, please contact:

Kathy Leblanc
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 74772
Pager 14772

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for more than 137 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children's Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes - Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph's Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital's nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit

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After-hours assistance: Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communications consultant on-call.