To Joey, With Love- a movie review

Although I cried throughout, I’m glad I watched To Joey, With Love, and recommend it to you; it is an extraordinary love story that demonstrates the power of love and faith to get ordinary people through the worst life can throw at them.

To Joey, With Love

A Story of Life, Love, and Hope That Never Dies

90 minutes , with Spanish and English subtitles for the hearing impaired

Provident Films 2016

To Joey, with Love is the intimate, authentic, and transparent story of a couple who met head on two of life’s most difficult challenges- a special needs child and a terminal illness. Rory produced the film because he believed their story needed to be remembered, documented and shared.
This post updated February 27, 2021 and contains affiliate links to products, purchases help support this blog.

Joey and Rory

Joey and Rory Feek had a successful career as a country music singing duo and a happy 12 year marriage when they decided to take a year off to have a baby. For many years Joey had been afraid to have a baby, fearing she would not be a good mother.

Her pregnancy progressed normally and culminated in a planned at home birth attended by a midwife. Sudden complications forced a trip to a hospital where both mother and baby were stabilized and in no immediate danger.

Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses told Joey and Rory that their much anticipated child had a problem- their new baby girl had Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.

Indie’s challenge- Down Syndrome

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions-

  • congenital heart defects,
  • respiratory and hearing problems,
  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • childhood leukemia and
  • thyroid conditions.

Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

Here are more  Down Syndrome Facts

 

Trisomy 21 chromosomes
Children with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome, number 21 (see arrow) Diagram courtesy of Dr. Clark Heath of the CDC

 

Joey’s challenge-Cervical cancer

A few months after their baby Indiana’s birth, Joey  faced the recurrence of cervical cancer diagnosed and treated years before. Despite more surgery, radiation and chemo the cancer persisted until further treatments were futile and and likely to cause more suffering. Joey decided to leave their Nashville farm,her horses, chickens and gardens, to move home to Indiana to spend her remaining time with her extended family.

FACED WITH THE PERSISTENCE OF THE CANCER

“JOEY DECIDED TO COME HOME-NOT TO DIE, BUT TO LIVE.”

Cervical cancer starts in the cervix, the narrow opening into the uterus from the vagina. More than 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 of women will die.

Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer since the widespread use of the Pap test to detect cervical abnormalities leads to early treatment.

Cancer of the cervix tends to occur during midlife. Half of the women diagnosed with the disease are between 35 and 55 years of age. It rarely affects women under age 20, and approximately 20 percent of diagnoses are women older than 65. Women should ask their doctor how often and for how long they should continue having Pap smears.

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition provides this overview of cervical cancer treatment.

overview of cervical cancer treatment

Get the Inside Knowledge about gynecologic cancer.

Rory Feek-musician and writer

In 2014 Rory Feek started sharing their lives in a blog and on Facebook which is where I first learned about them.

Eventually, he shared the entire story on the blog, which also lead to his book by the same name, and eventually the movie.

 

 

 

This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life, and the Woman Who Changed It Forever 

 

“In This Life I Live, Rory Feek helps us not only to connect more fully to his and Joey’s story but also to our own journeys. He shows what can happen when we are fully open in life’s key moments, whether when meeting our life companion or tackling an unexpected tragedy.

He also gives never-before-revealed details on their life together and what he calls “the long goodbye,” the blessing of being able to know that life is going to end and taking advantage of it. Rory shows how we are all actually there already and how we can learn to live that way every day.” (Amazon review)

 

Here is a link to a book excerpt-

RORY FEEK OPENS UP ABOUT HOW HE MET AND FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS LATE WIFE, JOEY

 

And now as a single dad, raising their daughter Indie with the help of family and friends, Rory continues his musical career and blogs at

roryfeek -an extraordinary, ordinary life

And has written another book

sharing the HEART of love and faith

Although I cried throughout,  I’m glad I watched To Joey, With Love, and recommend it to you; it is an extraordinary love story that demonstrates the power of love and faith to get ordinary people through the worst life can throw at them.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

When Breath Becomes Air- review of the memoir

Dr. Kalanithi faced his diagnosis with the same resolve, fortitude, and determination that served him well through medical school and a grueling neurosurgery residency. After his first round of treatment he was able to return to the operating room as a doctor, not a patient.

 

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi, M.D.,

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was a 36-year-old resident physician who had, as he wrote, “reached the mountaintop” of anticipating a promising career as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist. He had a loving wife, a supportive family and professors who respected his knowledge and skill. He seemed destined to be sought after, well paid, productive, successful, and  famous.

(note: a neurosurgeon treats  brain, spinal cord and nerve  diseases such as brain tumors that can be cured or improved with surgery,)

Unfortunately, “the culmination of decades of striving evaporated” when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer for which the prognosis was bleak, even with treatment. He was admitted to the very hospital where he trained as a neurosurgery resident, now  to learn what it is like to be a patient with a potentially terminal illness.

Dr. Kalanithi faced his diagnosis with the same resolve, fortitude, and determination that served him well through medical school and a grueling neurosurgery residency. After his first round of treatment he was able to return to the operating room as a doctor, not a patient.

Prior to entering medicine, Dr. Kalanithi had studied literature, earning degrees in English literature as well as human biology. He also completed a doctorate in history and philosophy of science and medicine at Cambridge.

Thus, when he realized he was facing his own death, he turned to his first love of writing to chronicle his experience and to explore “what makes human life meaningful?” And as he explored the meaning of what life is all about, he also explored the inevitability of death.

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when.

But now I knew acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. But there is no other way to live.”

Dr. Kalanithi passed away without completing his book, although his wife writes in the epilogue, “When Breath Becomes Air is complete, just as it is.” She and his parents kept their promise to have his book published after his death. She writes, “Paul was proud of this book, which was a culmination of his love for literature.”

Even before I finished reading this book, I felt as if I knew Paul and his wife Lucy. As someone who also enjoys writing, I can understand and appreciate his desire to preserve and share this experience.

This memoir is not so much a diary of what happened to Dr. Kalanithi as what happened within him as he confronted his own mortality and chose not to let it define the remainder of his life.

On the copyright page, “Death and Dying” is included in the list of categories for this book. However, you will not find “how to die” instructions here. Instead, you will learn how one man and his family chose to live despite knowing that he would  soon die.

His wife, Dr.Lucy Kalanithi, spoken publicly about her husband, his illness, his death, and the memories he left her and us through his book. Listen as she reflects on his legacy in this interview .

from the book

“In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only a part of the picture….Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. And Truth comes somewhere above all of them, where, as at the end of that Sunday’s (scripture) reading,

“The sowers and reapers can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

(note: the referenced scripture is from the Bible, John chapter 4, verses 36-38, precise version unidentified)

When Breath Becomes Air  was published by Random House.

Other reviews of his life and writing

from Stanford Medicine news- Paul Kalanithi, writer and surgeon, dies at 37

from KevinMD.com – A tribute to Paul Kalanithi

from The New Yorker, My Last Day as a Surgeon 

Michael Gerson, Washington Post opinion writer, Giving cancer a first-person voice

exploring the HEART of life and death

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .