SAN ANTONIO – Former KSAT News Director Jim Boyle would not appreciate the fact that his story is being told on the internet. He was not a fan of the World Wide Web, nor of his private business being made public. But he would be proud of the way his wife, Chula Boyle, and his two daughters, Erin and Brett, have handled his sudden death in 2014 and its aftermath.
In the emptiness of his loss, his family has created a legacy that embraces his love of running and hatred of the brain cancer that took his life. The Head for the Cure 5K came to San Antonio two years ago, largely because of their work and belief that finding a cure needs to be a priority.
Boyle’s story is unique in some ways, but is still so very familiar to other families who have watched their loved one transition from healthy to ill, in what seems like the blink of an eye. Boyle served as news director at KSAT 12 for 30 years, was an avid runner and enjoyed eating healthily.
One Friday in September 2013 however, Boyle went home early not feeling well. By the next day, he had a seizure and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Two days later on Sunday, he underwent a brain biopsy that went very, very wrong.
"He was brave, really brave," said his widow, Chula, of those hours waiting to learn how severe the tumor would be. "I just remember him saying, ‘Tell the girls I have no regrets. Tell them that they have been perfect and our lives have been perfect, just in case I don't see them again.’”
Maybe Boyle knew something, because by the next day, a tragic series of events began to unfold, starting with the revelation that the biopsy showed he was terminal.
"They said it was so large, it was totally inoperable and there was nothing they could do. Then, I would guess, between two or three hours, he was dying before my eyes,” Chula said.
Boyle’s sudden decline was the result of a brain bleed from the biopsy, which resulted in a massive stroke. From then on, he was paralyzed on the right side and could not speak. After two weeks in intensive care, then physical therapy, his condition improved a bit, but the decline was unmistakable as he slept more and more.
Boyle was in pain, on morphine and needed constant hospice care. All the way through this, however, Chula was by his side, as she had been for 45 years of marriage.
Six months to the day of the biopsy, he died in his own bed, wearing his favorite khaki shorts and guayabera shirt. Chula said when they finally got him out of the hospital bed in his final hours and laid him upstairs, she could see on his face a palpable sigh of relief and enjoyed watching his first comfortable sleep in months. It was time to go. The following morning, after a good Irish wake with family, he stopped breathing.
"When everybody left and was here alone, and I knew he was never coming back, at that moment I was so happy for him that he wasn't like that anymore,” Chula said of his passing.
Boyle’s life touched so many people and was seemingly gone in a blink of an eye. While the family grieved, they quickly gave birth to an idea to bring the Head for the Cure 5K to San Antonio. The idea was to raise money toward brain cancer research, but it also does much more. It brings awareness to how debilitating the disease can be for everyone involved.
"It doesn't just happen to adults or 65-year-olds. It happens to children. It happens to teenagers. It happens to new fathers and new mothers," Chula said. “I think the greatest accomplishment for our family is it has given us a great cause to feel that through his death there is meaning,”