Suzanne Somers Felt 'Grateful' and 'Lucky,' Despite Health Troubles, in Final Email to Dear Friend (Exclusive)

Sue Cameron is remembering her late friend , who one day before she .

Cameron, who met the star in 1975 when she was the director of daytime television at ABC, says Somers was “pure happiness and joy” and shared the final email she received from the actress in April.

In the note, Somers reflected on her own cancer journey and finding positivity in the face of adversity, writing, “I never dreamed aging would be responsible for not being able to walk. I told [my husband] last night that I probably should get a cane but then I would feel 'old'. See even now I can't say 'old.'"

Somers wrote she'd had “a major attitude check,” adding, “I've found gratitude by filling my brain with positives.”

“I am lucky to have been so sick and having my mobility be attacked realizing that being alive is a gift, the greatest gift, and I have great love, deep love, and I am grateful,” she continued.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the author recalled Somers taking pride in continuing her career amid her .

“She was very, very proud of [being a] survivor,” she said. “She totally understood that and was very proud that she was a survivor and managed to continue an acting career and then create this other empire.”

Cameron also looked back at Somers’ early stardom and .

“She did and the picture of her in that car in got her everything” she recalled. “When she got , she exploded as a star, and she really was the one.”

Cameron noted that Somers' costar “ was wonderful and extremely talented, but Suzanne was the breakout star.”

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on Sunday morning at the age of 76, her publicist R. Couri Hay confirmed to PEOPLE.

“Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early morning hours of October 15th. She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years,” Hay wrote in a statement to PEOPLE shared on behalf of the actress’ family.

“Suzanne was surrounded by her loving husband Alan, her son Bruce, and her immediate family,” the statement continued. “Her family was gathered to celebrate her 77th birthday on October 16th. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”