Julie D’Agostino loses fight with CF

By Dee Longfellow
For The Elmhurst Independent

She was a gift to all who had the fortune of knowing her and left a lasting impression on everyone she met. She lit up the world with her smile and lit up the stage with her singing, dancing and acting.

Julie Carr D’Agostino, 22, of Elmhurst, passed away on Friday, August 7, 2015, surrounded by her loving family and friends. She was the beloved daughter of Mario and Mary Carr D’Agostino; loving sister to Michael, Kevin, Elizabeth (fiancé Ryan Hogan), Carly, and twin sister Natalie; adored niece, cousin, and friend to many; loyal companion to her dogs Tino and Kiwi.

Deemed “Warrior Princess,” Julie fought a brave and courageous battle to the end, always maintaining a positive attitude and never wanting to give up despite the overwhelming obstacles in her way, family members said. In her short life, Julie achieved a “Ph.D.” (Personally her Degree) in design, fashion, cooking, organizing, crafting and hosting. She will always be remembered for her strength, resilience, loyalty, love of Meryl Streep, fondness of shopping and all things pink. Heaven is likely a little pinker with her in it. Since Julie’s passing, there have been pink ribbons gracing numerous trees in south Elmhurst around the area of Visitation Church.

About four years ago, the Independent brought you a story about Julie, her struggle to maintain her health and her double-lung transplant in October of 2011.

Born a twin on November 10, 1992, alongside her sister Natalie, Julie faced struggles healthy children never have to.

“Natalie did everything. I’d get upset sometimes when I couldn’t do things,” said Julie. “I did have a few outbursts when I was younger, but nothing too much. And [as the sickness progressed], I was so oblivious and so sick, I don’t even remember anything.”

“You’ve gotta understand,” said Julie’s father Mario. “She’s got a fantastic attitude.”

Prior to her lung transplant, hundreds of faithful Visitation parishioners prayed many times as Julie’s body continued failing as she waited for lungs that would help her breathe on her own again.

Prayers were answered on October 24, 2011, when Julie underwent a successful surgery that placed two healthy lungs inside her chest. Months prior to the surgery, Julie’s health had been rapidly declining due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis.

“We have 16 steps in our house. Julie would come down the stairs once in the morning and not go back up until bedtime,” said Mary D’Agostino, Julie’s mother. “She could not go back up the stairs, she was not strong enough. We’d run up the stairs for her.”

After the operation she could go up and down the stairs on her own with ease. Julie said her new lungs brought her so much more than just good breaths and the ability to eat her favorite foods or be more active.

It was such a story, her friend and neighbor Giancarlo Iannotta called it a miracle and he later directed and produced the movie, “Miracle on South Street: The Julie D Story.” There was hardly a dry eye in the house, when nearly 200 people of the Visitation community attended a viewing in the Valentino Center.

“The whole experience brought so many people closer,” said Iannotta. “Her story touched so many people.”

“Every year for my birthday I wished for a cure to CF,” Julie said. “When I was in the ICU, I didn’t care about the latest iPad or iPod. I know love is all you need – and your family. If you’re stripped of everything else, but have that – that’s all you need.”

Too numerous to list, her family wishes to thank all of those who helped Julie on her journey, prayed for her strength and worked tirelessly to comfort her.

Friends and family met for a Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday, August 12, 2015, at Visitation Catholic Church in Elmhurst. Interment Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery, Hillside.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, Attn: Gwendolyn Blakemore, 425 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, 60143; or, Make a Wish America, 4742 N. 24th Street, Suite 400, Phoenix, AZ 85016-4862; or, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 6931 Arlington Road, 2nd floor, Bethesda, MD 20814. Arrangements handled by Gibbons Funeral Home, Elmhurst. For more information, call 630-832-0018 or visit gibbonsfuneralhome.com.