Then: Chemo, radiation and transfusions
Collin Boyd was 8 years old when he and his family learned he had cancer in his soft tissue. That was March 2012. His father, Jimmy, recalls the trips from Tyler to Dallas for his son’s treatments. They began in April after the diagnosis and continued into summer. Collin endured six rounds of chemotherapy, 30 rounds of radiation and three surgeries. Treatments like Collin’s can negatively affect cells in the bone marrow, leading to low blood cell counts. Accompanying his treatment regimen, doctors ordered transfusions of blood and blood products, like platelets, to support him through the side effects.
“He always tells me that baseball is what got him through cancer,” said Jimmy Boyd, Collin’s father. “It’s something that because of [cancer] he grew closer to [baseball]. It was his safe place where he could be a normal kid.” Among the Boyds’ circle of supporters were people from church, work and baseball. Collin was the pitcher on a select baseball team and an avid Texas Rangers fan. Carter BloodCare learned of Collin’s diagnosis and love for baseball and invited him to represent blood recipients and throw out the celebratory ‘first pitch’ at the Texas Rangers game July 6, 2012. Eighty people traveled by van from East Texas to Arlington to support Collin. He even had his own press conference in the official Rangers’ media room. “What Carter BloodCare has done is to give Collin a gift that takes his mind off of fighting cancer, so he can get excited about something and enjoy some moments of his summer,” said Kim Richter, Collin’s aunt, speaking about the event that day. “For our family, seeing him happy is a special gift to us.”
“The best memory I had from throwing out the first pitch was how supportive everyone was. Everyone was extremely happy for me and very uplifting,” said Collin Boyd, recalling that day. “Another, of course, was actually throwing the first pitch. Throwing it and hearing all of my supporters made me feel extremely good and was a great reminder of how there’s a lot of people behind me supporting.”
Now: Happy is the new normal
Jimmy Boyd says ‘happy’ is mostly all you see on Collin’s face today, as the high school senior prepares to graduate Grace Community School in Tyler. His interests still include baseball and playing on a select team. Collin even hopes to play ball at the college level, but there’s more. “In the fall he is interested in golf with his dad. He’s a natural. He is also busy playing poker with his buddies and going out with his girlfriend,” said Mr. Boyd.
It all sounds like a typical teenager, but the Boyds are not typical people. The family pays forward, the generosity they received while Collin was so sick. During that time the Rose Capital West Little League (RCWLL) held a baseball tournament fundraiser to support expenses not covered by the Boyds’ medical insurance. The tournament continues in Collin’s honor, with the 9th annual Collin Boyd Strikeout 4 Cancer Baseball Tournament taking place May 15, 2021. The tournament earnings benefit a different family each year, whose child is undergoing cancer treatment.
Today, does the family think about the anonymous blood donors who gave the blood and platelets that helped save Collin’s life? “We talk about how important blood donations are; he supports blood drives at school – getting people to donate. He appreciates everyone who donates and helped him through that time, said Boyd.” “Blood donors have no idea how much they help,” said Collin. “Without [those] transfusions, who knows where we would be today. But thankfully, there are people out there that are willing to help and save others. If you don’t donate, I strongly encourage that you do. You may not realize it now, but it truly does save lives and gives kids, like me, a chance to do great things in the future. Overall, I really just want to say thank you to everyone that donates.”
As for Collin’s father, Jimmy says that he’s been affected by the experience too. He looks at his work differently. “At Argon Medical, some of our products are used for biopsies and chemo treatments. It has made me more aware of what [we do]. It is lifesaving.” And what about Collin’s future? What’s ahead after high school? “He wants to go to college and be an anesthesiologist. If he could play baseball first, that would be his first love, but he says he’s up for the challenge of doing both,” said Mr. Boyd. Collin says he is headed to Tyler Junior College to complete basic courses for one year. Then he plans to attend the University of Arkansas and begin pre-med studies. Right now, Collin’s plans don’t include playing baseball, but trying to ‘walk-on’ at TJC could be an option. “The inspiration of me becoming an anesthesiologist was from the one at Children’s [where I was treated]. He was always really nice and made me feel like everything was going to be okay, and it was. Although I do not remember much from the surgeries, I always remembered him. I would like to have that same effect on others in the future while they are undergoing surgeries. Even though it might be hard, I would like for others to feel at ease even in hard times,” said Collin.
This is what being a blood donor is about. It’s about boys like Collin, with cancer, who grow up to be young men, seven years cancer-free and planning a bright future. It’s also about fathers like Jimmy who can experience the same pride other parents feel when their son prepares for graduation day. All the best to you, Collin! Thank you to the Boyd family for sharing Collin’s story and letting us celebrate success with them through the years.
You can play an important part in creating moments of celebrations like this. Make your appointment now to donate blood this month by calling or texting 800- 366-2834 or schedule online.