Walk of love: Mother walks 6000 miles in memory of her daughter

Walk of love: Mother walks 6000 miles in memory of her daughter

"I knew this was what I had to do. It was something I could do and it would somehow make life more bearable."

Nov. 22, 2015 marked a day that Natalia Spencer would never forget. On that faithful day, Elizabeth Spencer, Natalia’s daughter, fell ill with what was believed to be a simple a chest infection. Surprisingly, 5-year-old Elizabeth grew more and more ill with each passing day. Upon further assessment, her doctors diagnosed her with what’s known as hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).

The condition, which is life-threatening, occurs when cells of the immune system can no longer properly destroy infected or damaged cells. Eventually, this leads to a fatal condition in which the immune system begins to damage the victims own tissues and organs, including the bone marrow, the liver and even the brain.

When Elizabeth began to show fatal signs of this condition, her doctors transferred her to Bristol Children’s Hospital. There, the 5-year-old spent 18 days on life support. She passed away on December 10, 2015.

 

Source: TODAY?Natalia Spencer

Source: TODAY/Natalia Spencer

After Elizabeth passed, Natalia faced dark times. She began to stay with friends, claiming that it was too difficult to stay in a home abundant with the memory of Elizabeth. About a month after Elizabeth died, a friend of Natalia’s encouraged Spencer to go for a walk. The walk resulted in the two friends ending up at the Gower Peninsula in Wales. It was there that Natalie had a brilliant source of inspiration and wonderful idea.

 

Read the rest of this mom’s amazing and inspiring story. Click next to learn more!

 

“Elizabeth particularly loved the beach and the sea and we visited the seaside a lot. After she passed away, I went to the seaside and it was the first time I’d felt any comfort,” Spencer said in an email interview with TODAY.

elizabeth 1

Source: TODAY/Natalia Spencer

Natalia made the decision to honor her daughter by trekking the entire (6,000 mile) British coastline; a trek the 41-year-old mother from Cheltenham, England would refer to as a “Walk of Love”.

“I knew this was what I had to do. It was something I could do and it would somehow make life more bearable.”

The intrepid mom started her journey on Valentine’s Day at Durdle Door in Dorset, England–the last beach Elizabeth visited before passing away. Since then the Spencer has traveled over 1,500 miles covering ground across Dorset, Cornwall, Devon and the entire coast of Wales. She walks an average of 20 miles a day, except for Saturday, her rest day.

Along the way she’s been accompanied by locals of each town and city she passes through. The locals regale Spencer as she travels, often about their lost children and loved ones.

“The walk has shown me that something so tragic can bring people together from all walks of life and that some good has come out of this awful personal loss,” she said in her interview via email.

Source: TODAY/Natalia Spencer

Source: TODAY/Natalia Spencer

“The walk gives me something structured to focus my mind on and enables me to cope. The hardest thing is not having Elizabeth by my side. I miss her more and more each day. Some days are easier but other days there are little things that trigger memories from our life together and the grief comes over me like a wave,” says Natalia.

Though the walk is focused towards helping this mother’s peace of mind, she’s also used the media spotlight to help raise awareness of HLH (Elizabeth’s condition), and to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital. Thus far, she’s raised the equivalent to $144,000.

This courageous mother has quite a long way to go, but we wish her the best of luck on her journey!

If you’d like to donate to Natalia Spencer’s cause click here for more information. You can also track her journey here or here.

Original article on TODAY.

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