What do you say to a husband who is madly in love with his wife, when he learns that she is going to die? Joey and Rory Feek were that couple, country musicians who shared everything they did: their music, their love for each other and their children, their livelihoods, their religious beliefs and their very beings. Watch the video below and cry . . . like I did.
Her Early Career and Lasting Love
Joey Martin Feek was born on September 7, 1975 in the small town of Alexandria, Indiana. In 1998 at age 23, she moved to Nashville to pursue her singing career and in 2000 she signed with Sony Records, but her records did not sell. In 2002, she met her future husband, guitarist Rory Feek who was 10 years older. After four months of a platonic relationship, they married and she gave wedding rings to both of his daughters, Hopie and Hedi Feek, as well as to him.
They then had a successful husband and wife career. She was the lead singer, while he sang background vocals and played guitar. They made many successful recordings and concert appearances.
Childbirth and Diagnosis
On February 2014, 12 years after they married, she gave birth to their child, Indiana Boone Feek, who was born with Down's syndrome. Four months later, she was diagnosed with aggressive cervical cancer. She was devastated and cried because she was afraid that she would have to stop breast-feeding her daughter and that she might not see her grow up. The cancer was larger than four centimeters, so the surgeon recommended removing her uterus and ovaries as well as the cancer. After surgery, she was told that the margins and the removed lymph nodes came back clean, so she thought that she was cured and wouldn't need chemotherapy or radiation.
The couple continued to make records and had an extended tour scheduled, but on October 23, 2015 they cancelled the remainder of their Farmhouse Concert tour and announced that her cancer had spread to her colon and through her body so she was going to stop treatment. The loving couple were going to spend their time together at home. They composed and she sang the song: "When I'm gone."
On November 9, 2015, they announced that she was under terminal hospice care and she was on end-of-life palliative care at her family's home in Alexandria, Indiana. She kept a public blog of her last days. In March 4, 2016, at age 40, she said goodbye to her family and relatives, fell asleep and died with her husband at her side.
Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in North American women. However, in the last 25 years, the death rate from cervical cancer has been reduced by more than 50 percent because of the Pap test that can screen for cervical cancer in its early, curable stage.
Most of the time, a woman with no symptoms whatever receives the diagnosis because of a positive Pap test in which a Q-tip is rubbed against the opening to the uterus in the back of the vagina and the cells are analyzed for cancerous cells. It can also be diagnosed after tests find the virus that causes the cancer. The most common presenting symptom is bleeding after sexual contact. Other symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse.
Almost all cases are caused by infection with the sexually-transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Every new sexual contact with a person who has had sex with someone else is a risk for this cancer. There are more than 150 different types of HPV and only some of them cause cervical cancer. Almost all sexually-active people have had HPV infections at some time.
Most of the time a woman picks up HPV from a sexual contact. Then her own active immunity clears the virus in 6-9 months and she becomes immune to that virus and cannot be infected with it in the future. However, immunity to one type of HPV does nothing to protect against infection with any of the other types. Certain types of HPV viruses are less likely to be cleared. If a woman acquires one of the cervical cancer-causing types of HPV and her immunity fails to clear it, the virus can go on to cause cervical cancer.
Factors that Increase Risk for Cervical Cancer
• Having more than one sexual partner
• Having an unfaithful sexual partner
• Not using condoms (condoms decrease but do not guarantee prevention of HPV)
• Having other viral infections such as HIV (decreases immunity)
• First sexual contact before age 13.
• Using birth control pills for more than three years
• Giving birth to more than two children.
• Not getting yearly Pap tests
A woman may be able to get a free Pap Test through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. To learn more, call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
Vaccinations are now available against the most common cancer-causing types of HPV. Immunization can prevent infection, but it must be done before a person is sexually active and has already been infected with these types of HPV. In the first six years of quadrivalent HPV vaccine, the rate of infection with the viruses dropped 64 percent in girls aged 14 to 19 (Pediatrics. Feb, 2016).
Every new sexual contact puts you at risk for becoming infected with the cancer-causing HPVs. Condoms help, but are not completely dependable in preventing HPV and the many other sexually-transmitted diseases that can kill you. Immunization before exposure to some of the cancer-causing HPVs can prevent infection.
Joey Martin Feek
September 9, 1975 – March 4, 2016
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