By Ariana Bacle
Updated June 04, 2014 at 07:37 PM EDT
J Pat Carter/AP

Writer Susan Spencer-Wendel has died at the age of 47 at her West Palm Beach, Florida, home, The Associated Press reports.

Five years ago, the writer was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerorsis, a neurodegenerative disease commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, when she was reporting at The Palm Beach Post. In response to the diagnosis, Spencer-Wendel went traveling with her family, vowing to enjoy the time she had left. Those journeys turned into the memoir Until I Say Good-bye.

Until I Say Good-bye isn’t a “pity me” type book though: “If you think it’s funny, then we’ve made it home,” Spencer-Wendel told NPR in 2013. The memoir later made it to the top of The New York Times‘ best-seller list.

Last year, Spencer-Wendel wrote a piece that appeared on Today‘s website about how she stays positive in the face of declining health: “I find it helpful to focus on space and nature and the remarkable things found there,” she wrote. “And how sunsets, though an ending, are sublime.”