(UPDATED: 11:15 a.m., Dec. 18 to reflect that Boyle’s surgery is scheduled for Jan. 8).
Rep. Judy Boyle plans to miss the first week of the upcoming legislative session as her body recovers from surgery and her battle with breast cancer.
The Midvale Republican, who serves on the House Education Committee, discovered the cancer in June and has undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments to fight the disease.
Boyle completed her final chemotherapy treatment in late November, and plans to undergo more tests and lumpectomy surgery to remove lymph nodes on Jan. 8.
Boyle, who was just elected to her fourth term in the Legislature, was upbeat and expressed confidence she would not miss more than one week of the legislative session.
“I should be able to start the session right at the second week, and have a substitute (temporary lawmaker serve in my place) for the first week as people are getting to know each other,” Boyle said.
Boyle was healthy and energetic enough to participate in the Legislature’s organizational session Dec. 4, but said she kept the news from many – including several fellow lawmakers.
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“My closest friends in the Legislature, my family and a few friends in Midvale knew, but I had to get used to the idea myself before having my friends see it in the paper,” Boyle said.
Boyle began undergoing chemotherapy every three weeks and received her treatment in Fruitland. She was able to convince her insurance carrier to cover a new FDA-cleared antibody treatment that she said some have described as a “miracle treatment.”
In response to chemotherapy, Boyle got sicker and sicker and had to undergo chemotherapy as often as three times a week.
The battle tested her, with Boyle saying – at times – she didn’t have the energy to stand up without help or roam around for short spells.
But Boyle relied on her own inner strength, the support of those closest to her and prayer.
“I relied on my faith in God,” she said. “I know God is in control, no matter what. So many people called and believed in me and they prayed for me. I really do believe in the miracle of prayer.”
Despite the toll the disease and treatments took on her body, Boyle kept up with Idaho politics and her legislative emails. Last month, she penned a scathing editorial in the wake of District Judge Patrick Owen throwing out the state’s $60 million broadband contract. Boyle wrote “Idaho citizens are watching crony capitalism in action” involving “a rigged contract.”
Boyle said there may be “repercussions” coming her way for the editorial, but she could not stay silent as a Republican who supports the Idaho Education Network.
“I have had calls and emails from all over the state – people thanking me for having the courage to do that,” Boyle said. “I don’t think of it as courageous. There is a difference between right and wrong, and my grandfather taught me if you don’t do anything to correct or stop something, you are just as guilty as the person committing the wrong.”
During an interview with Idaho Education News last week, Boyle felt “a thousand times better,” noting she was able to complete her Christmas shopping and go for short walks without help.
After all Boyle has been through, she views her upcoming return to the Legislature as major milestone in kicking cancer. She also wanted to thank everyone who included her in their family’s thoughts and prayers.
“I am very, very relieved,” she said. “I told my doctor, at one point, that I forgot what it was like to actually feel good.”