The genetic predisposition toward alcoholism and depression has threaded its way through generations of my family tree. While I have struggled with depression throughout my life, I was lucky to escape the disease of alcoholism. One of my sisters was not so lucky.

But that’s not the end of the story—it’s only the beginning. This coming December, I’ll be traveling to California to celebrate a very special occasion, my sister’s 35 years of sobriety. She is one of my heroes, someone who literally hit rock bottom and turned her life around—in her forties no less. After 22 years as a raging alcoholic who endured everything that entails—troubled relationships, career derailments, financial struggles—she decided to do the scary thing. She changed her entire way of being and doing life. After many failed attempts to stop on her own, she surrendered and did her best to follow AA’s twelve steps. With strong support from the program, she’s not only maintained her sobriety but has built a successful professional career and this summer, will celebrate her twentieth year of marriage to a wonderful man. Recovery hasn’t been easy, but she’s done it. And I am in awe.

Moreover, a second miracle recently occurred. After decades of struggling with this disease, one of her daughters, my beautiful niece, decided she’d had enough and joined AA. Her journey, like her mom’s, will be long and hard. But so far, so good. My sister reports that her daughter often tells her, “I can’t believe how much better I feel.”

So, the next time someone tells you it’s too late to make a major life change, please think of my sister and niece. As George Eliot so eloquently pointed out, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”