From Fan to ‘Angel': Rory Feek Shares Gratitude for Joey Feek’s Best Friend Julie Zamboldi
During her battle with terminal cancer, Joey Feek has received love and support from family, friends and fans all over the world -- but as Rory Feek writes in a new blog post, his wife's friend Julie Zamboldi has gone above and beyond to be there.
The Feeks first met Zamboldi and her husband Joe "about seven or eight years ago," Rory Feek recalls; they were fans who had come to see Joey + Rory perform at an outdoor festival. The two couples have formed a friendship throughout the years, but Julie Zamboldi -- who has already lost "two of her best girlfriends" to cancer -- and Joey Feek have become especially close. Zamboldi now runs the Feeks' fan club and, as Rory Feek explains, "has not only worked hard on [our] behalf ... she's also loved us deeply. Especially Joey."
"Like an angel from heaven, it was as if God sent Julie to us. To her," Rory Feek writes. "But none of us knew why, until the cancer showed up again this summer."
In October, when the Feeks first went to be with Joey Feek's family in Indiana, Zamboldi came with them -- and has, essentially, stayed with them for the months since, returning to her home (and husband) in Oregon only twice. She was among the loved ones who gladly shaved their heads to show their support back in November.
"When I was writing one of the first difficult blog posts about Joey’s chemo and radiation not working … I wrote about Joey’s best friend Julie. I labored over the ‘best‘ part of that line for a long time. As I’ve mentioned, I’m fiercely protective of my wife, and Joey has many close friends who love her and would do anything for her, not to mention her three sisters. So to choose one person and write ‘best friend’ for her was difficult for me -- I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings when they would possibly read the post, and I also didn’t want to choose Joey’s best friend for her," Rory Feek recalls. "But I remember walking down the road with our manager Aaron and telling him my concerns and him just listening for a long time. Then, he stopped and looked at me and said, 'Rory, Julie’s traveled 2,500 miles … put her life on hold … and sat by Joey’s side for weeks and weeks at a time -- if that isn’t what a best friend does, I don’t know what is.'
"He was right. So so right," Feek adds. "... She’s been here all week, helping Joey’s sister Jody take care of my wife and me and everyone else. She cooks, she cleans, changes the baby’s diaper and does any and everything else that she can find to do that needs to be done while we’re living here out of suitcases ... not waiting for someone we love to die. But helping the woman we all love to live."
On Saturday (Jan. 16), Zamboldi was supposed to leave the Feeks and head back to Oregon -- but when Joey Feek realized, as Rory Feek recounts, that she may never see her best friend again, Zamboldi's plans changed.
"... [A]t the Indianapolis airport this evening, a plane will take off and Saint Jules (as Joey’s daddy calls her) won’t be on it. Instead, she will be be with her best friend," Feek explains. "And as God would have it, the tables have turned, and now it’s easy to see ... Joey and I are Julie’s biggest fans."
In late October, Rory Feek informed fans, via his blog, that his wife’s first round of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for Stage IV cervical cancer did not help; rather, two quarter-sized tumors had appeared in the same area that the doctors had been treating, and several more tumors had appeared in her abdomen. In light of that sad news, the Feeks stopped all medical treatments, returned to their Tennessee farm and canceled all of their Farmhouse Concerts that were scheduled for November and December. They have been spending time in Joey Feek’s hometown,visiting with family, friends and other loved ones, and in early November, Rory Feek revealed that his wife had entered home hospice care.
“Her pain and discomfort has continued to increase daily and so has the morphine to help her be comfortable. The dosage she’s needed to keep the pain away has quadrupled in the last four days. I’d like to tell you that she’s doing great and is going to beat this thing. But I can’t,” Feek wrote in early January, adding that, recently, Joey Feek “has been having serious talks with Jesus,” telling him “that if He’s ready to take her … she’s ready to come home.”
The couple will release a new album, Hymns That Are Important to Us, in February. The project will be their last, as Rory Feek says that he has "no desire to go on singing or performing" without his wife.
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