Athena Orchard comes from Leicester, England, is a cheerful and pretty girl.
Playing sports is one of her favorite hobbies, especially boxing.
She watches over her 6 sisters and 3 brothers with the utmost devotion.
Just before Christmas, the 12-year-old discovered a bump on her head.
She doesn’t think anything much of it – until she collapses in the kitchen.
Doctors then give her the devastating diagnosis: bone cancer – a huge shock for any 12 year old.
During the 7-hour-long operation, doctors remove a tumor from her spinal column.
Afterward, she undergoes grueling episodes of chemotherapy and loses her hair.
Athena, who is normally overflowing with energy is so weak she is unable to leave her bed.
Her mother Caroline tells us “She always remained optimistic and told me not to cry.“
“We knew that the cancer was very aggressive … She fought for as long as she could,” she adds.
But, shortly after her 13th birthday, she died surrounded by her family.
A couple days after Athena’s death, her father Dean packs up all of her belongings.
As he removed her mirror from the wall, he discovered something on the back. It is inscribed from the top to the bottom.
The words are a message from his dead daughter. “I couldn’t believe it. It was almost 3,000 words long.”
“It totally blew me away. I started reading the words, but I had to stop after awhile, it was simply too much – it broke my heart.” he remarks.
Athena’s handwritten goodbye was full of wisdom and comfort for those she left behind.
Here are some excerpts from Athena’s emotional valediction:
“Happiness depends upon ourselves. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.
Happiness is a direction, not a destination. Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young.
You know my name, not my story. You have heard what I’ve done, but not what I’ve been through.
Love is like glass, looks so lovely, but it’s easy to shatter.
Every day is special, so make the most of it. You could get a life-ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day. Life is only bad if you make it bad.
Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts and people change. Life is a game for everyone but love is the only prize.
If someone loves you then they wouldn’t let you slip away no matter how hard the situation is.
Remember that life is full of ups and downs, without the downs the ups don’t mean anything.
I’m waiting to fall in love with someone I can open my heart to.
Love is not about who you can see spending your future with it’s about who you can’t see spending your life without.
There is no reason to cry because I’ll know you’ll be by my side.”
No one knows how this girl found enough strength to write this message. “She never mentioned it, but it’s like her,” says her dad.
“Athena was very profound. She loved to write, that was a part of her and had always made her happy,” he adds.
Even though Athena no longer lives, she has made herself immortal through her words:
“We will keep the mirror forever. Just reading her words makes it feel like she is still with us.”
Despite her illness, Athena never lost her ability to see the beauty in life.
Her optimism manifests itself in her last thoughts, the thoughts the teenager wrote on the backside of her mirror.
In this way, she was always aware of these words when she looked in the mirror and saw how cancer changed her.
With her mindset and strength, she is an inspiration to us all.