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02/14/2014 09:30 pm ET Updated Feb 14, 2014

Remembering Debbie Ford: Author Shares Major Lesson Learned From Cancer (VIDEO)

When the late Debbie Ford was diagnosed with cancer, she kept it a guarded secret for 11 years. In 2012, the Courage author revealed her diagnosis on an episode of OWN's "Super Soul Sunday," telling Oprah that she spent a long time in denial -- even after doctors removed a five-pound tumor from her body.

Ford finally came to terms with her diagnosis and began to understand that she knew nothing of true courage until she battled cancer.

"What I would say to anybody facing any life challenge or disease is that that is courage -- to choose life, to keep looking at what's good," Ford said

For Ford, having a supportive friend made a big difference in her outlook. "Cheryl Richardson used to send me texts every day, 'Just believe that I believe,'" Ford told Oprah. "I would call her crying, 'I lost my faith.'"

Even in the darkest moments, Ford found that courage could emerge. "We just have to make it a choice. We have to choose faith even if we don't feel it," Ford says. "Or hold on to a friend who has faith."

"What was your lowest moment?" Oprah asked.

"When I got home from the hospital," Ford answers. "Still, I didn't know that they were thinking I was going to die. I thought I was just going to live and have no energy."

For those who don't understand what it's like to live with disease, Ford attempted to explain the feeling. "Empty. It felt so lost, like, 'Why am I here? Why do I want to be here? What am I doing?'" she said. "It just felt like I didn't belong anymore."

By making a conscious choice to fight, Ford found her courage and refused to give up. She found strength in her supportive loved ones, kept a "gratitude journal" to remind herself about the good things in life and made the most of every moment she had.

A year after her interview with Oprah aired, Ford passed away on Feb. 17, 2013 at her home in San Diego, lovingly surrounded by friends and family.

"God never gives us more than we can handle. Everything that comes our way is coming our way so that we can grow and evolve. If we look at it like that and we're willing to open our hearts and see where we're shut down, where we're trying to resist life, then we have a great opportunity to step into who we always wanted to be."

— Debbie Ford

"Super Soul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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