Days after 12-year-old Athena Orchard died of cancer, her parents found heartbreaking – yet uplifting – messages from her on the back of her mirror.
Athena was diagnosed with cancer after she discovered a small lump on her head in December last year. Before she died, she wrote the secret series of messages.
Among the messages she wrote: "Every day is special, so make the most of it. Life is only bad if you make it bad.
"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."
Athena, who leaves behind six sisters and three brothers, added: "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.
"Life is a game for everyone but love is the only prize."
Her dad, Dean, said: "It was a stand-up mirror in her room, and it was always lent up against the wall so we never saw behind it. When I moved the mirror after she died I couldn't believe it, I saw all this writing, it must have been about 3,000 words.
"I started reading it but before long I had to stop because it was too much, it was heartbreaking."
Athena's mum Caroline, 37, said: "We knew that Athena loved to write, that was part of who she was, it made her happy. We're keeping the mirror forever, it is a part of her we can keep in the house, it will always be in her room.
"Just reading her words felt like she was still here with us, she had such an incredible spirit."
Athena collapsed at home at Christmas and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
In the following months, she underwent intense chemotherapy to treat the cancer in her spine, her left shoulder and her head.
Athena had to have a seven-and-a-half-hour operation to remove the tumour on her spine and wore a wig to cover her hair-loss. She died on Wednesday, May 28.
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