I’m very happy to have to the opportunity to share with you an interview that I recently had with Mary Pat Boyd, owner and creative genius behind Boyd Silver Works, a unique custom jewelry design service specializing in cancer awareness pieces. Mary Pat is a two-time breast cancer survivor and a tireless advocate for cancer awareness and prevention through her volunteer work with the American Cancer Society. When I first came in contact with Mary Pat, I was intrigued and inspired by her stories of grace and strength under very trying circumstances. We’ve since become fast friends, and I’m so glad that she’s agreed to share her story with Batting Cancer readers.
How does your spina bifida affect your daily routines?I was 3 days old when I had the spina bifada surgery and there was early concern about hydrocephalus. Aside from the possibility that the early radiations may have caused my cancer, my adult life has not been affected by the spina bifada.
Your business, Boyd Silver Works, is focused solely on creating beautiful cancer awareness jewelry. How did you first start making your works of art? I’d been working with metal for some time before my first cancer diagnosis, but my cancer awareness jewelry line began with the Silver Ribbon Ring that I designed while going through the first cancer battle. I began making awareness jewelry because I wanted to share hope through jewelry design.
Have you always been in a creative profession?Always. I’ve worked in various mediums throughout the years but I really enjoy the metal working a lot.
Before you were diagnosed with breast cancer the second time, you had difficulty convincing your doctor that something was wrong. What advice would you give to someone who is currently having trouble communicating with their doctor? My first cancer was estrogen negative. The second cancer (in the same breast) was Paget’s Disease. The mammogram for the second cancer didn’t reveal the tumor and my doctor didn’t think that I had cancer again. I know my body though; and a nagging feeling hung over me so I sought a second opinion. Women need to realize that we’re entitled to more than one medical consultation. If you doubt what someone is telling you, seek advice from someone else. And if you don’t have a good rapport with one doctor, then find a different one. This is your body and you need to be an advocate for yourself.
Describe your volunteer work with the American Cancer Society.I’m proud to be a volunteer through the Reach to Recovery program that the American Cancer Society offers. We’re certified volunteers who interact with cancer patients and survivors. The ACS attempts to match volunteers with patients based on cancer similarities, etc. It’s a wonderful outreach program.
You’ve had to face a number of personal struggles in your life — what do you consider your greatest sources of strength?I talk to cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones often so I know that my own story is very unremarkable. Their stories touch my heart and humble me. I draw a lot of strength from those that I’m in contact with and I’m proud to be a voice in the war against cancer. I honestly believe that we can make a difference, and that belief gives me strength and propels me forward.
What would you like to share with readers who are currently undergoing cancer treatment? Statistics clearly show that an early diagnosis will prolong one’s life or save a life, so it’s important to do monthly self exams. And get that mammogram! A mammo can’t detect all cancers, but it’s a terrific tool against the disease. Also, a cancer patient often feels alone and isolated, but she doesn’t need to carry her cancer fears bottled within. There are many volunteers and caring people who will listen to her concerns, so I think it’s important that she reach out to others for help. Talk with your family, friends, and medical experts. You’re not alone in this battle.
Some individuals find that their relationships with friends and family members undergo a great strain after they are diagnosed with cancer. What advice would you give to caregivers and friends of cancer patients? My husband of 30 years had an affair with my best friend during my first cancer battle. He divorced me and married her, and that was devastating to me at the time. Sadly enough, I’ve come to realize that this type of thing happens far more often than most of us realize. I wish we wouldn’t let cancer have this type of power. Our lives and our perspectives may change because of cancer, but cancer shouldn’t be allowed to destroy our relationships. Cancer is scary and often people don’t know what to say to the patient, so they don’t say anything. Be a friend to the cancer patient—talk to her. Let her know that you care. Listen to what your friend has to say. Defy the destruction of cancer by forging a deeper understanding and a bond with your friend.
Is there anything else you would like to share with Battling Cancer readers?Keep hope in your heart. God bless.
I’d like to thank Mary Pat for being such a wonderful reader and a great inspiration. You can read more about Mary Pat’s story and learn about her jewelry at Boyd Silver Works.
Readers — do you have a question for Mary Pat? Let us know in the comments! Also, if you or someone you know would like to be featured on Battling Cancer, send us message at our “Submit Your Story” link on our sidebar!