One day after her 15th birthday, Lacey Smarr died after she was found unresponsive in her home. The reason? A heart attack, which was brought on by an eating disorder that the teen had been hiding for months.
Now, her mother, Candy Miller, is speaking out so that other families will know what signs and symptoms to look for.
Lacey in July 2014 (left) and November 2014. (Photo Credit: Facebook (2))
Miller says Lacey's eating disorder first began in the eighth grade after friends teased her about her weight. "They would tell her that her butt looked big in the volleyball shorts," Miller explains, though she knew the girls didn't mean any harm. "That's all it took for Lacey. She's just that kind of person that takes it seriously."
From that moment on, the pretty blonde became fixated on diet and exercise. She even developed a habit where she would lock herself in the bathroom and turn on the water.
"I asked her about it, and she said she was locking the door because of her little brother and that she couldn't use the restroom without the water running," Miller reveals. "I bought it. I didn't question it."
Lacey in a photo dated Jan. 4, 2015. (Photo Credit: Facebook)
Pretty soon, Lacey had dropped from 126 pounds to 88 pounds. When she was admitted to the hospital after fainting and hitting her head, doctors said they didn't believe the teen had an eating disorder but an ulcer.
Following her death, Miller is revisiting the warning signs. "She's a very smart girl," Miller tells the 'News Journal.' "She knew how to hide it."
The Longview, TX, mother is currently in the process of launching the Lacey Foundation, a non-profit organization that will spread awareness about eating disorders.
"I feel like if we can save just one family from the grief we're going through and the pain, then my daughter didn't die in vain," Miller says.