12/03/2012 04:40 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2013

A Letter to the Daughter Whose Death Saved My Life

Dear Lily Elizabeth,

I never held you, yet my heart will hold you always.
You became our baby angel,
While sucking your thumb, in my womb.

In all ways,

You are perfect.

I'm so sorry for hurting you.
Even though my bad blood
Wasn't my fault, I blame myself.

In and out of every moment,

I miss you.

For 40 nights in the hospital, I longed to have you back.
All those solitary, sleepless hours,
I clung to the memory of your fluttery movements.

In the sky,
You flit on butterfly wings.

I had dazzling dreams for you.
You could've been a doctor, a teacher, Daddy's little princess,
Not a hero.

In your blue eyes,
Heaven's hue is revealed.

The stopping of your tiny heart saved my life.
Without the notice you gave,
The cancer would've killed me within a week.

In His kingdom,
You now crawl.

The silver lining says, at least I survived.
I'm so grateful, but it was my job to protect you,
Not the reverse.

Within our hearts,
Your heart still beats.

Because of you, your sister still has a mommy.
The smallest member of our family,
You committed the greatest act of love.

Shelley Nolden was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in April, 2011, at the age of 31. The first symptom was the loss of her baby at 20 weeks gestation. With APL, immediate treatment upon diagnosis is critical; the disease, which impairs the blood's ability to clot, can cause internal bleeding that can be lethal. Thanks to research advancements, APL has become one of the most curable forms of leukemia. Shelley is currently in remission, and intends to stay that way. She would like to thank her family and friends, her doctors, First Descents, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, StupidCancer, and all those who've given to cancer-related causes and those who've donated blood/platelets. Your generosity has given Shelley life and helped her to cope.