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Snellville woman writes memoir, how-to book on battling cancer

Julie Mills, a Snellville massage therapist, wrote a book, "Here's the Deal About Cancer," and entered the medical massage industry after her husband battled a malignant brain tumor for eight and a half years. She credits dietary and lifestyle changes for extending his life. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

Julie Mills, a Snellville massage therapist, wrote a book, "Here's the Deal About Cancer," and entered the medical massage industry after her husband battled a malignant brain tumor for eight and a half years. She credits dietary and lifestyle changes for extending his life. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

SNELLVILLE — Julie Mills knows first hand what drinking water and eating vegetables can do for a cancer patient. It gave her husband six and a half more years of life.

Mills, a massage therapist in Snellville, is the founder and owner of the Body of Health and Life Clinic only because of her husband Tommy’s battle with a brain tumor. Journal entries she wrote during his cancer battle to vent and process the situation turned into the foundation of a book she published in November called “Here’s the Deal About Cancer.”

With a degree in finance from Auburn University working in the mortgage industry, Mills wrote the book only after some encouragement from her father. The book is written with a summary and checklist after each chapter, which helps serve as a reference guide, she said.

“I just wanted somebody to have something in their hand that was easy to read, that would help them when they were first diagnosed, or really anywhere in their journey,” Mills said. “There’s a lot of confusing information out there, and it’s hard to stay focused when you’re told you’ve got a terminal illness.”

Tommy, a Navy fighter pilot, who hated vegetables and loved fast food drive-through snacks, was diagnosed in 1998 with a malignant brain tumor. Julie firmly believes it stemmed from a poor diet and high stress job, such as being exposed to plenty of electro-magnetic fields. He died in 2007 at the age of 44 following a spirited battle with an angry brain tumor that grew to nine centimeters. Mills called it angry because it bled a lot, and once required three surgeries in a 24-hour period. Yet that same year, she began practicing massage therapy as one way to help her husband’s fight.

Instead of being in a fetal position with a feeding tube, Mills said, Tommy was an active participant in their children’s cross country meets, and other family activities.

“While other people going through the same treatments were not doing so well,” she said. “That’s where all the excitement came from.”

One motivation to write the book came from Mills’ contention that most diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease can be avoided, or at least controlled, with lifestyle changes.

“We’re just too lazy to do them, or don’t have the guidance,” she said. “So I put them in a book. You can’t just sort of dabble in it, you have to take it seriously. You’re using food as your medicine as well. You wouldn’t take prescriptions without following directions. So you have to follow directions with what you eat as well.”

The changes they made weren’t subtle. They cut out sugar, drank gallons of water and only ate organic vegetables.

During Tommy’s battle, Mills said she learned the value of foods and enzymes, and how an environment is created within the body where cancer lives.

One piece of advice Mills passes on is for people to be proactive about their health, and don’t simply listen to what a doctor says what the doctor will do, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which she called short term fixes.

One of the first things Mills did when her husband was diagnosed was to earn a license in lymphatic drainage, to drain toxins from his body. She then took continuing education classes, and went on to learn oncology massage.

Mills said she enjoys being a part of her clients’ team, to show them what they can do for themselves.

“Time was of the essence and it clicked, and I have never looked back,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”