Dear Samantha,

You are ok. I promise. You might not believe me as you slip into that new dress your mother bought you for this very night. The dress that is two sizes smaller than all of your other ones because you’ve lost about 20 pounds since January. You might not think it as you doze off during Jeopardy each night. You might not think it as you go from appointment to appointment, blood test to blood test.

But I know it. Don’t waste nights wasted with friends crying because you’re terrified of getting sick again. It’s a waste.

Stop thinking your illness took something away from you. You never thought the other people you’ve known, with similar illnesses, were less beautiful, inspiring, breathtaking. You are no different. I wish you could see that where you are instead of telling yourself you’re now damaged goods. Instead of you believing that the only one who can love you now is the one who said he did before you got sick.

Which brings me to a big one: Do not feel like you owe anyone anything. You really don’t. That one lesson could prevent your own heartache and that of a couple of others.

Start writing. Remember what you went through. Remember where you started. Remember what you love. Somewhere along the line, you let it go. Your soul will thank you, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response you get. Despite what you think, you’re interesting.

You in a few, short, wonderful years.

PS: you are nailing it with the honesty thing. You have never hesitated to let someone know you care. You won’t lose it, just know you’re on the right track with that detail. It makes everything beautiful.