A 32-year-old woman who knew she was nearing the end of her cancer battle penned an emotional obituary before her passing.
Family members of Ashley Ann Kuzma, a gifted support teacher at McDowell Intermediate High School in Erie, Pa., said they found the message saved on her Google drive days after she died at the Cleveland Clinic on Sept. 22, following a two-year fight against aggressive laryngeal cancer.
"When we found it we were like, 'What do we do?'" her mother, Vicky Kuzma, told Good Morning America. "And I said, 'She wrote this. We have to publish this. This is her last message to us. How could we not?"
In her heartbreaking self-written eulogy, Kuzma discussed her impending death, which she said she had "a lot of time to think about" due to her thrice-recurrent cancer that wouldn't "take no for an answer."
"The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans, or trying not to get skin cancer???" Kuzma mused. "One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places."
She goes on to detail some of her favorite pastimes and travel experiences, including a trip to Mexico to see Chichen Itza in 2019, which she took soon after learning her cancer was back for the fourth time.
"I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived," she wrote. "I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own."
"My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out," she added. "Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that's what matters."
Along with the obituary, Kuzma also left behind videos of herself singing happy birthday to her mother; her father, John; and her younger sister, Kristen. She also requested that her family host a celebration of her life in lieu of a traditional wake, "since I think viewings are too sad for everyone."
Just weeks before her passing, Kuzma shared on Facebook a series of photos showcasing her laryngectomy scars highlighted in gold as part of an initiative by Club Hope Foundation Inc.
"Kintsukuroi is a centuries-old Japanese tradition/art of mending broken pottery with gold," she explained at the time. "It is understood that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken."
"Your scars of today are someone else's hope for tomorrow," she added.