Susan Spencer-Wendel, writer of the best-selling book Until I Say Goodbye, died on Wednesday in her home. She was 47 years old.
Spencer-Wendel was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease – a neurodegenerative disease. The symptoms for the disease include muscle atrophy, difficulty breathing, swallowing, and speaking.
Spencer-Wendel was a court reporter for The Palm Beach Post in 2009 when she first noticed symptoms of the disease. She was only diagnosed 2 years after, but she had already decided to live her life the way she wanted, and the best she could.
She travelled the world and visited places, such as Budapest , the Caribbean, Cyprus, and Yukon. She also took time to find her birth mother, and shared memorable experiences with her family.
While travelling, Spencer-Wendel documented her trips for The Palm Beach Post, and it caught the eye of HarperCollins. They gave her a $2.3 million deal and Universal Pictures also gave her a seven-figure offer.
Her travels and experiences are now documented in her 357-page book entitled Until I say Good By: My Year of Living with Joy. The memoir was published in 2013.
Nancy Maass Kinnally, Spencer-Wendel’s friend since childhood said, “She never stopped seeing the beauty that surrounded her and the love that surrounded her, and she never stopped putting love out into the world.”
Her husband John said in an interview, “She’s sort of my inspiration. I take cues from her. Every day I wake up, and I think, ‘This is just horrible.’ Then I go in, and I’ll see her wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh, you’re smiling? I probably should be, too.’ That’s what’s getting me through.’”
Spencer-Wendel’s disease caught up with her last year, when she could no longer use her thumb properly. Reports say that she died surrounded by her loved ones.
Spencer-Wendel is survived by her husband and three children, Marina, 16; Aubrey, 12; and Wesley 10.
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