Julie Mears Henry, 53, died March 26 at her home in Palm Bay, Florida.
She is survived by her husband, John Henry; her father, Charles Mears; and more relatives and friends than can possibly be named.
Julie was born in Kansas City, Mo., and graduated from St. Catherine’s School, Baptiste Junior High, Hickman High School and Rockhurst College.
She trained as a nurse and worked for the American Academy of Family Physicians before becoming a freelance writer specializing in medical topics, co-owner of a book publishing company, and publisher of KansasCityontheCheap.com and MyrtleBeachontheCheap.com.
Julie, like her mother, brought people together. She loved to be surrounded by family and friends. When she moved to a new town, she actively sought out new connections.
As a volunteer, she cooked meals for children in a group home and worked for Alzheimer’s awareness in Brevard County through the Purple Balloon Guild.
In July 2015, Julie began chronicling her journey through cancer in a blog she titled “Facing My Mortality”. After several months of misdiagnosis, doctors discovered a tumor in her trachea, which turned out to be small-cell neuroendocrine cancer, which was essentially small-cell lung cancer.
During the next three and a half years, she wrote about her chemo, surgeries, radiation, immunotherapy, and numerous hospital stays, many of which took place only because her insurance wouldn’t cover a drug she needed to stay alive, and the only way to get it was to be hospitalized and apply for aid from the pharmaceutical company – which she was finally denied because she was deemed not poor enough.
Through her blog, she shared the difficulty of living with cancer and the extraordinary difficulty of navigating the medical system when you have a serious illness.
She wrote in May 2017:
“I’m angry. In fact, some days I’m pissed off at the world. I’m mad that this happened to me in the first place. That I can no longer hear music or sing. That I’m spending so much of my life sitting in doctors’ offices. That almost every moment of every day is a struggle. I want my life back! And then I feel guilty for being mad when there are others who have lost so much more than I. What right do I have to be angry? And that makes me cry more.
“I’m…human. I don’t think most people who have cancer (myself included) are the brave warriors people often make us out to be. We were thrust into a battle with inadequate ammunition. There was only one choice: Do you want to live or die? So we did what we had to do.”
She posted her last entry in January, after a family visit from all five of her siblings for Christmas. The day the last sister departed, she experienced a high fever:
“I actually thought I might die that night, but never said anything. It felt like 2016 all over again (That was the year I almost died for real.). Although I wouldn’t say I wanted to die, I felt okay about it. I’d just seen a lot of my loved ones, and I’d had a chance to travel more with my husband and do a lot of fun things in the two “extra” years I’d been given. So I was okay with it if God had decided it was time for me to go.”
In late February, she elected to go into hospice care and forego any further treatment.
A celebration of her life will be April 20 at her sister’s home at 1216 Lakecrest Circle in Raymore, MO. All are welcome to drop by from 1-4 pm to share food and conversation. Dress is casual (per Julie’s explicit instructions).
Anyone interested in applying to be publisher of Myrtle Beach on the Cheap should contact Teresa Mears at Living on the Cheap, firstname.lastname@example.org