Woman, 25, announces her own death from cancer in final letter: 'Do whatever makes you happy'

A 25-year-old woman who’d been healthy and active until she suddenly developed bile duct cancer has written a final, poignant message announcing her death and urging people to “enjoy the little things in life.”

Daniella Thackray’s funeral was held on Monday, March 18, her fiancé, Tom Calvert tells TODAY.com.

Her last letter, posted by her family to LinkedIn and Facebook on Feb. 23 upon her death, has received thousands of reactions and comments from people around the world.

Daniella Thackray, 25, died of bile duct cancer in February and has since gone viral for her last message on social media.
Daniella Thackray, 25, died of bile duct cancer in February and has since gone viral for her last message on social media.

“I LOVED my life. Everything I had achieved was what I wanted. I loved my job, my fiancé, my family, my friends and my dog, and the house we were going to buy and the future we were making for ourselves,” Thackray wrote.

“I chose not to mourn the life I was losing despite being so devastated, but to instead enjoy every moment I had left.”

She worked as a people administrator for an advertising agency in Leeds, England, describing herself as “very healthy and active” until she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a cancer that forms in the bile ducts, in July 2023.

Even though her life was never the same again, she wrote, she chose to focus on everyone and everything she loved.

“We can’t control what happens to us, (but) we can control how we react,” Thackray added.

“You should enjoy the little things in life and cherish every moment! Romanticise your life! Do whatever makes you happy and don’t let anyone take the joy of life away from you.”

She finished the letter with a message to her fiancé: "Go enjoy your life now, you deserve it."

The 25-year-old was the most enthusiastic and cheerful person, Liz Reynolds, her manager at 26 Agency wrote when announcing her death. The company is fundraising for St Gemma’s hospice in Leeds in her memory.

Bile duct cancer symptoms

Thackray called cholangiocarcinoma a “horrid cruel disease” that wasn't caused by anything in her control and just happened.

It’s a rare and aggressive cancer that spreads fast and has usually metastasized by the time it’s diagnosed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Experts don’t know what causes it, but risk factors include having bile duct stones, cirrhosis of the liver or inflammatory bowel disease.

About 8,000 people are diagnosed with bile duct cancer each year in the U.S.

It starts in small tubes that carry bile — a fluid that helps the body digest fats — inside and outside the liver, the National Cancer Institute notes.

Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes

  • Dark urine

  • Clay colored stool

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fever

  • Itchy skin

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Unexplained weight loss

Treatment is challenging because the cancer has usually already spread by the time it’s discovered. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and a liver transplant, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The five-year survival rate for bile duct cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body is 2% to 3%, the American Cancer Society notes.

“I really really do hope that in the years to come more research is done about this horrid cruel disease so that more lives can be saved,” Thackray wrote in her final message.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com