BERGENFIELD, N.J. — When Author Julie Cox of Hackensack was a girl in the Philippines, she was one of 12 siblings — poor, malnourished and, as a teenager, ill with leukemia.
Her father, a carpenter, gambled away the little he made.
So her parents couldn’t afford to take her to a hospital.
Instead, she was taken to a faith healer.
“The healer prescribed herbal medication. It was excruciating to take that medication every hour,” she recalled.
“I prayed to God that he take me.”
Finally, two of her siblings saw to it she got to a government hospital where, eventually, she recovered.
Today Cox is in her sixties, an American citizen and the founder of the Julie Cox Love Mission Foundation.
Though she is far from the world into which she was born, she has never forgotten it.
After a 20-year career with the retail giant Nordstrom, Cox is now fulfilling a promise she made to herself in those early years.
If she ever was blessed with a good life, she vowed, she would do whatever she could to help Filipino kids in the same misery she experienced.
“No one helped me,” she said. “I believe you have to give in order to receive.”
The Julie Cox Love Mission Foundation is the manifestation of her vow.
She and her husband, Lou, feed Filipino children.
They bring tons of fortified rice which the children contentedly eat using coconut palm leaves. There are no utensils.
Every other year, the foundation also brings a medical mission to the children who get much-needed treatments, surgeries – even dental work – for free.
The couple lets battered women and children live in their large home in the Philippines.
In 2011 Cox wrote her life story in a book entitled “I Ordered My Future Yesterday” (Trafford) .
She wrote it to inspire others to overcome their own adversities.
Cox had many more travails after her cancer.
She was raped, resulting in a pregnancy.
Disowned by her parents, she was left to raise her son in a landfill — until she gave him up for adoption.
“He deserved a better life,” Cox said.
After a time she, too, escaped that life.
“I found an employer that sponsored me and paid for my airfare to the U.S.,” Cox said.
Then she worked three jobs, just to survive.
She did survive and thrive and, happily, her son, now an adult, sought her out.
All book sales fund the foundation’s work, as does money raised through a newer nonprofit, Soul Change Cottage .
Hear Julie Cox talk about her life and work at 1:30 p.m. April 23 at the Bergenfield Public Library, 50 W. Clinton Ave .