A Daughter's Devotion

“My mom was my rock and my cheerleader. This whole year and beyond is dedicated to living our legacy.” - Lizzie Baker, M.D. 

Brave. Beautiful. Badass.

The above mentioned are just a handful of words that Lizzie Baker uses to describe her mother, Candice. As a dialectical behavior therapist, Candice dedicated her professional life to working with teens who had borderline personality disorder. Outside of work, Candice was disciplined about taking care of herself and supporting her two children. 

“She was unconditionally supportive of me. She had my back on everything, maybe to a fault, haha!"

As a child, Lizzie endured some tough times. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her dad’s alcoholism resulted in a broken relationship. “I wish I knew him better,” shares Lizzie. “For a lot of years, I had negative emotions surrounding him. It’s hard because he was my dad. Alcoholism sucks. It isn’t something people have control over. Aside from that, he was an amazing human being.” 

At age fourteen, Lizzie attended boarding school and through daily phone calls and weekly meet-ups, she and her mom stayed close throughout college and beyond. Lizzie went on to become a pediatrician, stepping back to take care of Candice when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. During that time, she vowed to be her mom's strongest advocate. 

“I was her proxy throughout her whole cancer journey,” states Lizzie, who is, herself, a survivor of cervical cancer. “My mom’s diagnosis was terminal. Her doctor told her she had six months to live. We got a second opinion, and she lived for seven years. Throughout that time, she endured seven clinical trials, and she lived a very normal life. From the outside, you wouldn’t have known that she had cancer.” 

Because of Lizzie’s advocacy, her mother was able to pass peacefully at home, and never had to stay in the hospital. 

Advocating and Amplifying

“She put herself 100% into everything she did. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. She was phenomenal. I miss her.” 

Since her mother’s diagnosis, Lizzie has devoted her energy and efforts into supporting lung cancer research and empowering others to advocate for themselves and their loved ones. Through volunteering and becoming an ambassador for both The Dempsey Center and The American Lung Association, Lizzie is paving the way to increased access to medical care. 


The Dempsey Center

The Dempsey Center was founded in 2008 by actor and Maine native Patrick Dempsey. Inspired by his mother’s cancer journey, Patrick Dempsey wanted to make a space where those impacted by cancer could find relief, comfort, and resources. The Dempsey Center offers customized care in-person and online through counseling, support groups, nutrition, integrative therapies, movement and fitness, and more—at no cost. 

Lizzie has volunteered with the Dempsey Center for eight years and counting. 

The Dempsey Challenge

The Dempsey Challenge is an annual run/walk/ride experience to raise funding for the Dempsey Center. “It’s on my mom’s birthday this year, September 23,” shares Lizzie. “I’m going to be the ambassador for the duathlon.” 

To date, Lizzie has donated $20,000 to the Dempsey Challenge. Since its inception, the flagship fundraising event has raised over $18 million for the Dempsey Center, with 100% of all funds raised going directly to client care.

Space 2 Breathe

This 4-day, 3-night adventure-based therapeutic camp is for teens ages 12-17 impacted by a parent, caregiver, or sibling’s cancer. This program challenges adolescents to build resiliency and connections with their peers who are experiencing similar circumstances. It’s offered at no cost and facilitated by trained professionals to include Dempsey Center staff, clinical counselors, trained volunteers, and professional wilderness guides. 

Over the course of this year and last year, Lizzie has donated $10,000 to support the program. “It was something I told my mom we were going to do before she died,” she says. “For me, coping skills are an immense part of what kids need to learn, and it’s a direction I would like to move career-wise. This feels like a nice merger of my career, my volunteerism at the Dempsey Center, and my mom’s legacy.”  


American Lung Association 

The American Lung Association is a leading organization that works to save lives by improving lung health, preventing lung disease, and creating a healthy world for all.

Since her mother’s cancer journey, Lizzie has become an avid spokeswoman for the organization’s mission, sharing her own personal story to stress the importance of funding for research and clinical trials. 

Lung Force 

Lung Force unites people impacted by lung cancer across the country to raise awareness and funding for research with the mission of finding a cure. 

As a Lung Force Hero, Lizzie has shared her own story to inspire and educate others. In talking about how she was invited to speak in Washington D.C. for Advocacy Day this past March, Lizzie states: “Before that experience, I didn’t realize how much of an impact one person can have, but I had the rapt attention of all of those congresspeople. It was really powerful. It makes a huge difference when you have a personal story and you can share your own unique perspective. I chose a positive one, and I talked about how incredible it was that we saw the evolution of lung cancer research happen before our eyes with every clinical trial my mom endured. She lived a full, functional life because of these technologies we had access to. I got to cast this beautiful light on her journey. What an honor.” 

Throughout her speech, Lizzie stressed the importance of access to medicine and trials, explaining that the state of Maine has limited access. “There has to be some kind of satellite work that we do to get access to people in places where they otherwise wouldn’t have it.” 

Trek Across Maine

The Trek Across Maine is a massive fundraising event for the American Lung Association, involving an incredible multi-day 180-mile bicycle ride. The event hosts nearly 1,500 cyclists and 600 volunteers each year. All proceeds contribute to supporting research and education around lung cancer. 

Thanks to participants like Lizzie, the Trek Across Maine has become the American Lung Association’s largest and most successful fundraising event in the nation. Since 1985, the event has raised more than $30 million for lung health. 

This June, Lizzie rode for her fifth consecutive year.

"I gave the keynote speech at the Spirit of the Trek speaking about legacy and grit and grace to a generous subset of the ~600 Trek riders," she shares. "It was well-received and I invited Trekkers to consider discussing their own legacy with one another on our final 60-mile day."

Memories Reimagined

“My mom was a model when she was young,” says Lizzie. “She was a stunning human being.”

Lizzie's done some modeling as well. She recently participated in a beauty pageant in her mom's honor and shared her story on the back of the program.

An ongoing project she's been pursuing, however, while actively supporting lung cancer research as an advocate and volunteer, is recreating vintage photos. 

“I totally feel connected and closer to my mom when I recreate the photos.” 

In an effort to feel more connected to her mother, Lizzie has selected fifteen of her mom’s original photographs to recreate. Her mom saw two of them before she passed away. “She loved them,” shares Lizzie. “She thought it was so cool.” 

Lizzie notes that it’s the perfect time for this particular legacy project, as she is around the same age as her mother is in the photos. “When my friends and family see the pictures, they tell me that we’re twins,” she says. “Which I love.” 

“When I share them, people think it’s wonderful because they get to see her again—in her glory. It’s an honor to recreate her image.” 

Her Mother’s Diamond

“I love that we’re having this conversation, because it reminds me of how much I’ve been doing. I want my mom to live on. And a diamond is a huge part of that. Because I’m going to have it forever.”

To honor her the shining light of her mom’s spirit, Lizzie has chosen to create an emerald-cut yellow diamond which will be set in an art deco style ring, custom crafted by Caleesi Designs in Austin, Texas. 

“It brings a permanence and a beauty to this process of moving forward,” says Lizzie. “This transition is so hard.To watch someone you love pass on is so painful. But to then know that you can create this stunning tribute and carry them with you is amazing. It’s all part of the legacy. And it’s both of our legacy now—my mom’s and mine. We’re going to travel together. We’re going to keep doing life together. And I can pass on her diamond to someone who will love her equally.” 

Moving Forward 

“As someone who’s been through a lot of trauma, I want to equip people with tools to help them cope so they can stay resilient, wonderful human beings. And so they can go on to empower their kids and the next generation.” 

Lizzie has already accomplished so much in honor of her mother, Candice, and she’s just getting started. Moving forward, Lizzie plans to pivot her career from pediatrics to specializing in supporting children and adults through trauma. 

“When you’ve had a lot of negative experiences, you can get into a mindset of constantly worrying about the next thing to drop. But by creating more positive experiences, we can re-route our neural synapses. It’s our job to help ourselves in that way. Not to wait for the next bad thing to happen, but to create enough positive experiences to attract more positivity in our lives. These are the things I want kids to learn about the world.”

When it comes to meaning making, Lizzie is an exemplary role model. By taking action and creating positive connections, she has come out of tragedy more resilient than ever to ensure her mother’s legacy not only lives on, but continues to make a positive impact on the lives of others.