LAKE ARTHUR--Julia Lynn Vega, 27, died Monday, Jan. 5, 2009 eight years after first finding out she had a rare form of cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma.

Julia was smart, sharp of tongue, well-read, up on current events, passionate about her beliefs, and caring and loyal to her friends and family.

She loved to dance, listen to music, and was an avid reader of everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Ayn Rand. Above all she was a fun person, someone you’d like to have a drink with.

She was the firstborn daughter of Jolene and Philip Vega, greeting this world on Oct. 9, 1981 in Junction City, Kan.

Her early years were spent in Kansas where she made her first appearance on stage as a flower in a grade school production of the “Wizard of Oz.” She later played the lead in a community youth production of “Fame” and that ignited a life long love of theatre.

Julia’s only sibling, Paul, was born in 1985. It was an event, Julia said she wasn’t thrilled about at the time, but their relationship grew into a deep love and mutual respect for each other.

In Kansas, she was surrounded and loved by many of her relatives, especially her Nan and Pops – Audrey and Manuel Vega – who babysat and cared for her on many occasions. Julia had such a special bond with her grandmother that in her adult life, she had her Nan’s initials tattooed on the back of her neck to honor her.

In Junction City, Julia also met and made her first life long friend, Jaime (Wahle) Richling. As kids, they enjoyed sleepovers, coming over to the Vega household to put on makeup (since Jaime’s Mom wasn’t too keen on the idea) and because they had the same middle names, Lynn, putting on “Lynn Sister” skits to entertain their relatives.

In 1992, the family moved to Roanoke Rapids, N.C., where Julia continued being involved with stage productions and making friends in this southern mill town. She enjoyed traveling and seeing the historic sites in the area. One of her favorite memories of this time was a vacation to New York City where she insisted her entire family take in the Broadway play “Grease.”

Moving to Sierra Vista, in 1996, Julia attended and graduated from Buena High School in 2000. Her grade point average qualified her for a full tuition scholarship to Arizona State University. She started in the fall of 2000, but in January, 2001, pain sent her to a doctor where she was diagnosed with cancer. Her treatment by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale was aggressive and nearly took her life. But after chemo and radiation, she was home by Thanksgiving of that year, took some classes online and re-enrolled at ASU in January 2002.

Julia received her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in theatre with a minor in English Lit from ASU in December, 2004. She was proud that despite her illness she still completed her degree in four years.

After graduation, she worked on various stage productions around the greater Phoenix area and held other part-time jobs. During this time, she also adopted her poodle, Charlie, who was always a loyal pet and kept her company through some of her most difficult times.

In 2007, the cancer returned. This time, the recommended treatment was a bone marrow procedure which took place in December, 2007 in Seattle, Wash. Thanks to the kindness and organization of Sierra Vistans Helen and Dennis Anton, a fund-raiser was held in her honor to help with the costs associated with this major treatment.

After the transplant and recovery, Julia was able to return to Sierra Vista in February, 2008.

Unfortunately, the cancer returned again in June and she subsequently was enrolled in a clinical trial as a final effort to combat her disease.

While the cancer and the treatments robbed Julia of much of the joys many of us have – a lifelong partner, the ability to have kids, a pain-free life, the luxury of being able to make long-term plans – she did a remarkable job of coping with the many trials thrust upon her. And she rarely complained about her circumstances.

We mourn her passing. We are grateful for all the time we had with her. We thank all of the medical professionals who helped her to live as long as she did. We thank all of our relatives and friends for their support during her fight.

Julia is survived by her mom and dad, Jolene and Phil of Sierra Vista; brother, Paul, of Tucson; her paternal grandparents, Audrey and Manuel Vega, of Junction City, Kan.; aunts and uncles Susan and Jerry Filson of Phoenix and Gloria and Alton O’Blanc of Jennings, La.; Paula Beavers of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Karen and Doug Griffiths, of Norton, Kan.; John and Eileen Beavers of Chapman, Kan.; Mary and Terry Reed and Pat and Angela Beavers, all of Junction City, Kan.; and Bob and Diane Beavers, of Galena, Kan..

She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents John and Elsie Beavers.

In addition she has many nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends who mourn her loss.

The family invites friends to a celebration of Julia’s life at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Windemere Hotel, 2047 S. Highway 92, Sierra Vista.

While Julia enjoyed flowers, she would have liked to have tried to help others as well. She invites you to make a donation in her name to the Arizona Cancer Center Patient Assistance Fund/UMC, c/o Ardie Deforge, AZCC, P.O. Box 245219, 3838 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719. The money sent to this fund helps in-need oncology patients with critical financial assistance for medical procedures, essential living expenses, and medications.

Hatfield Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

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