Lisa Jo Stearns M.D.
1958 - 2020
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Lisa Jo Stearns M.D.

With great sadness, the family of Lisa Jo Stearns, M.D. confirms her death on Sunday, May 31, 2020. Lisa died in one of her favorite places, Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

Lisa was born in 1958 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and was the youngest daughter of George Sterling Stearns and Frances Marie Wood Stearns. Her childhood was spent with her two sisters in tranquil, rural Wisconsin.

Although many of us know Lisa as the globally recognized cancer pain specialist she had become, she was a woman of many talents and interests, and her educational journey did not start in medicine. She began with a full-ride scholarship to Florida State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in the Classics. Throughout her time in university, she supported herself by working as a waitress. This allowed her path to cross with her future husband, Sebastiano Gulizia, with whom she shared nearly 35 years of marriage. Lisa continued her education at University of Nebraska Omaha, receiving a Bachelor of Science and Masters in Biology. She then attended the University of Nebraska Medical Center, graduating with highest honors, all while pregnant with their son, Joseph.

Dr. Stearns completed her pain management fellowship at the University of Utah Medical Center where her belief in treating pain holistically was solidified. She was tenacious in pursuit of this creed, especially for cancer pain patients. Tirelessly, she worked to improve quality of life for all patients, especially those nearing the end of their lives. Her fearlessness and innovation are world-renowned. She became one of the world's leading experts in cancer pain management, educating future clinicians and colleagues from across the globe. She was known to go above and beyond, not only seeing patients in the hospital and in office, but also making house calls, training fellows, med-students, and peers. Lisa managed patients throughout the workweek, evenings and weekends, and was known to add emergency surgeries well into the night for any cancer patient in need. In 2007, Dr. Stearns founded her private practice, Center for Pain and Supportive Care (CPSC). For Lisa, CPSC was more than a place she went for an eight-hour workday. CPSC is where she met some of her closest friends, who became family. It was where she offered work to those barely knowledgeable in the medical field, her dogs came to play and impart unconditional love to patients, and her ideal visions of patient care came to fruition. It was where she supported both cancer pain and chronic pain patients; offered invaluable education to patients, families, and staff; and pioneered an approach to practicing medicine that changed the face of doctoring.

Dr. Stearns frequently lectured at conferences in her areas of expertise such as targeted drug delivery systems, neuromodulation, cancer pain survivorship, and end of life care. Her passion to educate and inspire other physicians extended to events locally, nationally and internationally. Dr. Stearns was a frequent speaker for the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) and was part of their leadership development program. She was also a founding member of NANS Women in Neuromodulation (WIN) and was at the forefront of their mentorship program. Internationally, she lectured in Rome, Berlin, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and was a large presence for the International Neuromodulation Society (INS). Dr. Stearns was a founding member of the Cancer Pain Research Consortium (CPRC) and a founding member of Women in Pain Management (WIPM). Last month Dr. Stearns was selected as a recipient of the American Society of Pain and Neuroscience Cancer Pain Physician of the Decade Award. All those who had the honor to hear her lectures agree that she was inspiring, extraordinary and well deserving of this award and many more accolades.

Lisa had a passion for travel, which she instilled into her sons and daughter, Joseph, George, and Julie. The sky was the limit when it came to Lisa's plans for adventure, and she strongly encouraged everyone around her to join the fun. Some of her accomplishments include: scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, hiking Machu Picchu, skydiving, visiting the ruins of Pompeii, and traveling by scooter around Myanmar. Lisa's next big idea was to visit Antarctica with her family.

When not at work, Lisa was often found dreaming up new do-it-yourself projects. No project was too big or too wild for Lisa, and she frequently enlisted the help of friends and family to create her visions. Lisa had an open-door policy with friends and family, which allowed for large gatherings of people centered around food, laughter, and dogs.

Lisa was preceded in death by her parents, George and Frances Stearns, and in-laws, Sarina and Giuseppe Gulizia. She will be missed dearly by her husband Nuccio Gulizia, children; Julie, Joseph, and George, son-in-law James and granddaughters Sofia and Josephine. She is also survived by her sisters Mary Beth Stearns and Lucinda Butler, brother-in-law Anthony Gulizia, sister-in-law Lucia Shirey, and many nieces and nephews. Her family will remember her as a generous, accepting, inspired, and loving woman, walking down the beach trailed by four dogs with a shell in her hand.

The Center for Pain and Supportive Care will continue to remain open for new and existing patients. For more information please visit www.centerforpainandsupportivecare.com

Due to current travel and social distancing restrictions, there are no plans for a service at this time. Friends and family will be invited to a Celebration of Life at a later date.

Donations can be made to the Dr. Lisa Stearns Cancer Pain Foundation. Please visit www.centerforpainandsupportivecare.com.




To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Jun. 16 to Jun. 17, 2020.
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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28 entries
July 4, 2020
We are so late adding a message because we just found out today of Dr. Stearns passing. Our prayers are with her family. My daughter has been her patient for over 5 years, and I usually accompany her. She was a wonderful doctor and compassionate human being. We will both miss her more than words can express! Rest In Peace until we meet again. Jennifer Schuster and mom.
Linda Schuster
Acquaintance
July 4, 2020
I met Lisa during one of my first pain CME dinners in Scottsdale in 2002. We stayed connected from that moment forward. She was a excellent educator and she went above and beyond keeping our cancer patients comfortable. She was an incredible friend and I will miss her terribly.
Tiffani Rollins
Friend
July 2, 2020
Dr. Stearns was a true inspiration and mentor to me during my pain fellowship. Her fearless spirit, love for life and love for people was palpable in everything she did. I will think fondly on the many things she taught me.
Brent Meier
Student
June 30, 2020
Dr. Stearns was one of the most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. I join all the rest who will miss her dearly.
Jerry Samuels
Friend
June 30, 2020
Words cannot describe our feelings over the kids if Dr. Stearns. Over the past eleven years we have known her not only as a doctor but a friend. Her kids will be felt by many more then just us. Best regards to the family
Wayne & Mary Melluzzo
Friend
June 30, 2020
HE WAS AS LWAYS THERE TO CALM MY PAIN.
Elizabeth Raney
Acquaintance
June 29, 2020
As a patient of over ten years that turned into a friendship, I have nothing but the great admiration for Dr. Stearns. She literally saved my life when she implanted my first pain pump approximately ten years ago. She was truly a skilled physician and a more caring person. My heart aches for her family and for their loss. Find comfort in knowing that she was loved by many and did so much good for many like myself. She will be missed but I will never be able to repay her for what she did for me, she literally saved my life. I know your grief is great today, having lost my husband and most of my family, it does get easier as time passes but you have wonderful memories to hold on to. Find solace with those and hold on to them as they will bring comfort.
Dianne M Katscher
Friend
June 27, 2020
My deepest sympathy for her family and friends. Like many, she changed my life in 2014; for that I have no words. The world lost a great a person and to many of her patients a great hero.
Daniel Parades
Friend
June 25, 2020
First and foremost my prayers are with Dr. Stearns family, I've known Dr. Stearns For 5yrs working with her at the pain clinic. I always thought she goes above and beyond to help her patients in any way, I was one of the people helping her vision in making a house out of glass in Mexico. I have saved these glass Lidocaine bottles for her for 5yrs. She would get excited about all the bottles I had saved when she would come to work on Thursdays, I miss her smile, her visions everything about her. She was a teacher a mentor and all the above. I'm still saving her bottles, helps me to cope with this beautiful person we all have lost and will never forget. Love you Dr. Stearns...
Eli Wilson
Friend
June 23, 2020
It wasn't until Dr Sterns along with Her PA Jennifer Kiser that I could live a somewhat normal life nearly free of pain. Wow..I am saddened but happy for her where she is now. She was so wonderful and caring. Somehow she was Ble to give hope when. There was none! I am so going to miss her.
Susan Zwack
Friend
June 21, 2020
Roy and I send our love to Lucinda and Steve. The world lost a remarkable woman. Our hearts ache for you. Kim and Roy Brown
Kim Brown
Friend
June 20, 2020
I met Dr Stearns in the summer of 2012 when my husband was receiving cancer treatment at Scottsdale Healthcare for aggressive lung cancer with metastases. He had been in unrelenting pain for weeks. Dr. Stearns scheduled him for a pain pump placement with no time wasted. He was finally able to rest. Dr. Stearns was always available to us to be sure his pain was relieved. We lost him to the cancer in August of 2012, but I can only imagine how much worse his last few weeks would have been without her kind, compassionate care. I will always remember her for that. My deepest sympathies go out to her husband, sons and daughter and all her family and friends.
Linda Vredeveld
Classmate
June 19, 2020
I just found out about this today and am brokenhearted. Dr. Stearns replaced my infusion pump and while doing so, located a growth on my spine. We have lost a wonderful, caring doctor, advocate, dog lover and human. My heart goes out husband, son and Gringo.
Leslie Glassmann
Friend
June 19, 2020
I just found out about the loss of this wonderful human, woman, doctor, dog lover this morning. My heart goes out to Dr. Stearns family and office staff. We have lost an important advocate
LESLIE GLASSMANN
June 18, 2020
She was a wonderful doctor. She helped me and I dont know how I will continue without her. I love you Dr. Stearns!!!
Richie Fein
June 18, 2020
Dr. Stearns has been my pain doctor for nearly ten years. I came to her when all oral medication stopped working and I was contemplating doing the unthinkable. She actually saved my life when she implanted my first pain pump. No words will ever convey the gratefulness and thanks I have for her. When I first heard of her passing I was overwhelmed with sadness. I am sure other patients are feeling the same feelings that I am today. I only can convey my overwhelming sorrow for this loss to her family, friends and other patients. She was truly what a doctors is suppose to be, a healer. I considered her not only my doctor, but also a friend. My prayers are with her husband and children. She will remain with me as probably the finest doctor I have ever met. I will miss her more than words can ever convey.
Dianne M Katscher
June 18, 2020
Dr Lisa Stearns was one of a kind in a league of her own! I began pain Mgmt with Dr Stearns as the medical director for Scottsdale Pain Center, now Honor Health. I was the Nsg manager and Dr Lisa worked with me in 1998 to open the interventional center. But I would like to address Lisa as a dr & person. In 47 yrs of Nsg dealing with many physicians, emergency, critical care, surgeons, anesthesiologists& Pain Mgmt physicians, I have NEVER met another Lisa. Her compassion, caring, empathy, and in general the Phenomenalrapport she shared with her colleagues, patients & their families. She had a positive spirit that radiated to those around her! She would ask about their family, pets, basically any subject the patient enjoyed and took their mind off their Cancer Pain. She always had a hug for them and the love they portrayed was so special to observe. Dr Lisa taught me so much and she respected me as a nurse. My spouse had Cancer and she was always interested how he was doing and if she could help. You knew she meant it, if she said she would evaluate a patient she did! I will never forget her and truly question if I will meet another physician with her spirit, empathy, and being truly committed to improving a patient's quality of life. You are home now, there will be a void for your family and all of us Rest in eternal peace Dr Lisa. You will live on in all of us
Donna Shea- Tendick
Coworker
June 18, 2020
I am so saddened by the loss of Dr. Stearns and it is still difficult to grasp the reality that she is no longer with us. When thinkig about Dr. Stearns what comes to mind is that she made it so easy to love her, to admire her and to respect her. She was truly a very special person in so many ways. She was a dedicated doctor that went above and beyond for her patients even if it meant driving up from Puerto Penasco on a holiday weekend to attend to me. Not many doctors would do that but she did. Dr. Stearns lived lfe to the fullest and there was nothing that would stop her. At the end of an appoinment she would hug me and say goodby, my friend.
Frieda Bleier
June 18, 2020
Dr Stearns was the one who finally helped my spacicity and really helped my cancer pain. Even though I am on Hospice now Dr Stearns continued to see me and really helped my cancer pain more than anyone else and she came up with things no other doctor even thought of or suggested. Dr Stearns death is a great loss to the medical community, her patients, and her family. To her family and the staff at her office my thoughts and prayers are with you. I am so sorry. As for me I guess I will continue on the current protocol that Dr Stearns has me on till my passing cause I know no one else will come up with a better one. She is truly missed.
Sandra Decker
Friend
June 18, 2020
For many years I have been honored to work alongside Lisa as a colleague in the community. As it is with many, this turned into a friendship. Our collective words cannot scratch the surface of how incredibly special Lisa was to her patients, the medical community, and of course, her family.

I often joked with Lisa that she is not allowed to retire, as she is simply irreplaceable. The reality of this loss is now felt with heavy hearts across the globe. Thank you, Lisa, for everything you did for all of us. To her family, thank you for sharing Lisa with us all these years.
Peter Kubitz
Friend
June 18, 2020
I am still in disbelief even though I heard of this tragedy on May 31, when her office called to reschedule a patient of hers, who I got into her care for his cancer pain. She's made a huge difference in his quality of life, as she has for so many others since I worked with her back in 1998 to 2001. She was not only my boss, she was a great friend, mentor, and a genuinely wonderful, caring person who had a huge impact on my life in more ways than I can count. She was a truly extraordinary Dr who was a pioneer in cancer pain treatment. The late night surgeries I scheduled and house calls she made after hours and on weekends...I was with her on most, if not all of them. I felt just as fortunate as her patients did to watch her work. She was one of a kind... her dedication to work tirelessly on improving every patients quality of life was something I'd never seen before, and never will again! The medical community has lost a great mind, a caring soul, amazing woman, and undisputed best Dr in chronic & cancer pain treatment. My sincerest condolences go out to her family...Nuchio, Joseph, George, who I took care of at the office while we worked and the patients just loved him, her daughter Julie. and her extended family, as well. I cannot imagine what they must be going through but my thoughts and prayers are with them all. I know you're gone, but you will never be forgotten Lisa...my friend, my inspiration, my role model, and the best person I've ever known!
Lisa Booth Davison
Friend
June 17, 2020
Lisa was one of my best friends. She first was my employer which grew into a great friendship. We put our trailers together in Ricky Point, Peurto Penasco MX. Our sons became friends as well. She was the most beautiful person, inside and out, that I've ever known. I'm blessed to be her friend and she my mentor. God just gained a beautiful angel, who will give him a run for his money. I'm sure by now, she's already in charge and trying to rebuild the pearly gates. God bless her family and all our friends.
Toni Marando
Friend
June 17, 2020
Although my time with Lisa was short, she never ceased to not only amaze me, but truly inspire me. There truly will never be another like her. My heart breaks for her family and patients. Lisa, you will be greatly missed. Thank you for all that you taught me and thank you to her family for so graciously sharing her with us.
Jennifer Dais
Coworker
June 17, 2020
hat do you say about a woman who saved your life more than once ? More than a doctor but also a friend. I remember back in 2015 I had surgery & was in the hospital on Easter Sunday. Who shows up but Dr. Stearns, she sat with me for a few hours. It wasnt until then I knew she had children, and I thought when did you have the time to have kids ? Her light always was bright but now I feel that her light is shining the brightest its ever been. To her husband & children thank you so much for sharing her with us. Because of your sacrifices she was the most amazing doctor Ive ever met.
With great sorrow there is also great love.
Liz
June 17, 2020
A 12 yr. patient of Dr. Stearns, I can say she was not only dedicated to her patients, she really cared. She held pain mgmt. classes once a month, where she gave valuable information on pain, and how to better your life even though you were in pain. She will be missed for many reasons but one main reason it is hard to find a Dr. that gives you the personal care and friendship like she did.
Barbara Walgraeve
Friend
June 17, 2020
As a hospice and palliative care nurse working in the valley for years I can not understate the impact that Dr. Sterns had on our industry and our community. This is a massive loss. May her family and colleagues find peace and comfort.
Mark Fritz
June 17, 2020
I am so saddened to learn of Dr. Stearn's passing! She was an angel on earth who helped my husband deal with the excruciating pain of late stage cancer. She and her caring PA were so compassionate and loving on our last visit to the office a few days before my husband passed away. What a loss to her patients, staff and beloved family. God speed Dr. Stearns. God has surely welcomed you with loving arms! May her contributions to medicine and her patients bring her family comfort as they mourn their loss!
Cheryl Wamsley
June 17, 2020
DEAR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, DR LISA jO STEARNS WAS AN INCREDIABLE, KIND AND CARING DOCTOR.. without her my husband of 30 years would not be here.. for over 24 years she cared for him and replaced pain pumps, and
resently 2-17-20 the catheria ,and pump the 4th pump ,and again gave him the incrediable relief from pain..
GOD only gave us; one of the Lisa's in this world, and now he has taken her home..may the knowledge of all she did, for all who came in contact with her, live on and the memory of her everylasting kindness, dwell upon the earth..till we all meet again.. It was difficult to go, to her
pain n supportive care on 6/5/20; and she was not there
in person, her smile lite up the building..personality and
those all around her, seem to share the knowledge we were among greatness ,and the pleasure of a hello and how are you..a temenous loss to the medical world, and to all the patients who so loved her.. to her family how very lucky to have had her in your life.,. grateful you shared such a treasure Lisa.. most sincerely and so very sorry for your loss...Donnie and Barbara Moore , Mesa , Arizona
Donnie and Barbara Moore
Friend
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