It has been an exhausting addiction. From as far back as I can remember, I’d worked at maintaining a sense of control and making sure everyone around me was happy with me rather than upset. I suppose that as far as most people were concerned, looking from the outside, I really had nothing to complain about. However, no one saw the inner exhausting job of continually working at doing the “right” thing—whatever that was. The older I got the more and more difficult it became. Spiritually it was chipping away at how I viewed God. I knew it, but what was I to do about it? I continued to pray out of a sense of panic and desperation, thinking, “I’d better hurry up and get this relationship with God right because unless I do….” I desired with my whole heart to be free from trying to perform.
In 2002 when our son, Caidyn, was born, I started to experience pain in my leg. At that time the pain was mild and more of an annoyance than anything else. In 2008 there was a massive windstorm in the Valley, and I helped clean up debris after the storm. The next day I could barely walk. Initially the MRI showed what appeared to be a fluid-filled cyst that couldn’t be drained even after multiple tries. The first surgery to remove the “cyst” was unsuccessful, which led to a second surgery. A large tumor was removed that was thought to be non-cancerous, although no one had seen anything like it, and could not determine what it was. What followed began a journey of years of medical tests, surgeries, and extensive time off work. Surgeries were performed, but later the pain would return and tests showed that the tumor was back.
The pain of it was one thing—the expense was quite another. What went on throughout those years was exhausting. Not only did I have surgery after surgery, but everything seemed to be falling apart around me. I had to take long and repeated medical leaves from work, both of our vehicles stopped working within a week of each other, our pets got sick and died of bizarre illnesses, things at our farm started falling apart which meant more and more expenses, another unrelated medical issue required surgery, and on top of everything, my husband and I were struggling with some issues in our relationship. Our debt was so high that we couldn’t afford to pay for our kids to attend their private Christian school.
Now it was becoming even more difficult to keep up that controlled front for everyone. But through it all I figured I was effectively pulling it off. Then it happened yet again. More pain less than a year after the last knee surgery. This time the physician recommended a cancer specialist. A highly renowned specialist at the University of Washington Medical Center accepted my case. The fear inside me was growing as I struggled to remain composed and be positive.
The physician took his time looking through all the records, reviewing, and asking questions. I will never forget when he announced that there was no doubt in his mind that this was osteosarcoma (bone cancer). This type of cancer, he explained, cannot be treated with chemo or radiation. If left untreated it goes to the lungs—and victims are often dead within six months. “The surgery needs to happen soon,” he said, “and I won’t be certain until I get in there whether or not I will be able to save your leg.”
Many people try to blame God for the bad things that happen. They ask Him, “Why did you let this happen to me?” The interesting thing is, that when I heard the diagnosis from the physician I was frightened, but I also had a sense of divine purpose for what was going on. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew that God was going to use this to give me peace and change me—if I would let Him. Once I recognized this, my personal time with Jesus came alive! As I read my Bible it seemed to come alive with hope, comfort, and messages that seemed to be written just for me.
On March 15, 2012, just a week before my surgery, I was anointed for healing. I had a peace that no matter what happened, God was with me. When the surgeon came out of the surgery to talk with my husband, he told Jim that he was able to get the tumor out with minimal damage to my leg. He would call in two weeks to notify us of the stage of the cancer.
Two weeks later the call came. The pathology report said there was no cancer! Skeptics may argue that it never was cancer but I do not believe that. This physician’s specialty is these types of cancers. Even after seeing it in surgery he was still convinced it was cancer.
I don’t know what the future holds—whether or not more medical issues will come. But I can say that I have a confidence that God is going to continue to work toward helping me learn to relax and trust in Him. “He that began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” And although He cares about every part of me, His goal is for me to understand that He is enough. Even when everything around me is falling, I don’t have to put up a front. I can be me and He won’t ever give up on me!
Carmelle Boyd, MSW, LICSW is a Behavioral Health Specialist at Adventist Health in Walla Walla, WA, and a member of the Milton Adventist Church. She loves spending time with her husband, Jim, and their teenager kids, Bayli and Caidyn.