Joey Feek dies after long cancer battle

Joey Marie Feek was ready — she was peaceful and accepting, believing that it wasn’tGod’s will for her to be healed from the stage 4 cervical cancer she’d fought off and on for nearly two years.

Feek, 40, lost her battle with cancer at 2:30 p.m. CT Friday afternoon.

“I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed I’d discover I was healed,” Feek said in November. “But I realized I was healed in a different way. I was healed in my relationship with Christ, because it just drew me closer.”

“Children are never ours,” Feek’s mother, June Martin, said tearfully during her daughter’s illness. She also lost her son, Justin, in a car accident in 1994. “God just lends them to us for a while. I believe that. Don’t be angry. It’s easy to be. I have been a couple of times. It’s his call. He is in charge. We’re all given a day to die. None of us are going to live forever.”

Country music fans first met Feek in 2008 — she and husband Rory comprised Grammy-nominated duo Joey+Rory, which placed third on the inaugural season of CMT’s reality talent search Can You Duet. Their debut single, “Cheater, Cheater,” climbed to No. 30 on Billboard’s country radio airplay charts, and they were named spokespeople for Overstock.com.

They released seven albums, including Hymns That Are Important To Us which topped Billboard’s Country Albums sales chart in February. The couple also hosted the popularThe Joey+Rory Show on RFD-TV. And many mornings, she made the quick drive from their Pottsville, Tenn., farmhouse to Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, the restaurant near Columbia that she operated with her sister-in-law, Marcy Gary.

But it was through her illness that she garnered worldwide interest. Rory Feek shared stories on his blog, www.thislifeilive.com, of her faith and integrity in the face of death. Her story went viral and millions read of the singer’s unwavering dedication to God, her daughter and her family.

“I’m a middle-aged woman living up north on Long Island, NY and cannot be called a country music fan,” wrote Michele Citrin. “I’ve only gotten to know Joey and Rory thru the stories … online. I cannot tell you how much their lives and their journey has touched me these recent weeks. I’ve prayed and asked the patron saint of my local Catholic Church to give Joey and her family strength.”

Before she died, Feek said God decided for her that “my job of singing for people down here is my legacy, and he needs me singing up there.”