Lizzy Strong: One Mom’s Ultimate Sacrifice for Her Baby

“Lizzy Strong” is a phrase that’s inspiring people around the country. It embodies the life and strength of a young mom who faced the toughest of challenges with amazing courage and faith. Now, her husband, friends, and family are carrying on her legacy — and her young daughter, Sophie, is a living reminder of her mom’s love.

Liz and Chris Shepherd were ecstatic when they found out that Liz was pregnant. But at about 20 weeks, she was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer. Her doctor advised Liz and Chris to end the pregnancy and begin cancer treatment immediately, but Liz couldn’t bear the idea of giving up their baby; she was going to do whatever it took to keep her. Liz and Chris, both Christians, wanted to live their faith, no matter how hard the decision was for them.

“It was a noble, powerful decision that she was making,” Chris said in a video commemorating Liz’s life. “I was so proud of Liz, but I was so scared, because she was the person I cared about more than anyone in the world.”

Sophie was born premature and was in the neonatal intensive-care unit for nine weeks, but she survived. Now she’s a strong, healthy toddler. Unfortunately, by the time Sophie was born, Liz’s cancer had spread. Liz was always upbeat during her treatment, however; she put others before her, no matter how she was feeling.

In the end, Liz didn’t survive. But the legacy she left is growing stronger every day. That’s why her friends began referring to her as “Lizzy Strong,” a phrase that even inspired a hashtag. At Liz’s funeral, Chris shared how she made a commitment to run every day for a year, and she stuck by that commitment no matter what. In fact, she ran for 411 days until she was injured. In honor of that, her friends are hosting a multi-city, 4.11-mile run, Run #Lizzystrong, in her honor on April 9. The run will help raise awareness to fight human trafficking, a cause Lizzy was passionate about.

Liz Shepherd was an inspiration in life, and she’s still inspiring people today. Her faith, determination, and strength are examples that others can live by. At her funeral, Chris shared one of the many lessons he learned from his wife. “Love first, and love more,” he said. “She served me first, and I couldn’t do anything but respond in a like manner. … Don’t wait until tomorrow to love your spouse; love them today. Don’t wait until tomorrow to be a good dad or a good mom. Be all you can today. That was Lizzy.”

Image source: Chris Shepherd