Last July, with the help of some good friends, Carla Boyd began a project and business that has always been dear to her heart.
At the age of 15, Carla was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The trauma of the diagnosis and surgery left her with emotional and physical scars. Issues she is still self-conscious about today.
Carla, the mother of former Clemson great Tajh Boyd, discovered a growth in her neck during a home economics’ class when she was in the 10th grade.
“Our teacher asked us if we used iodized salt,” she recalled. “So, we were looking in the book and there was an illustration of a little boy with a growth in his neck and it said how iodized salt can cause goiters. So, everyone in class started to feel our necks and I felt something in my neck and told my teacher and my teacher took me to the nurse.”
The next thing Carla knew she was seeing a specialist and setting up surgery to remove what turned out to be a golf-ball-size tumor on the left side of her neck.
“What might have happened if I never went to school that day,” she said. “When I went in, the cancer had spread. All of my friends were scared. They did not know if they were going to lose me.”
They also did not know what kind of damage the surgery could do to the nerves and muscles in her neck. Because of the procedure, and it being 1984, doctors warned Carla and her family that there could be some deformity in her neck and face due to surgery.
Carla underwent a nine-and-a half-hour surgery to remove the tumor and spent the following two weeks in the hospital. Though they got all of the cancer from her body, she was left behind with a scar due to 42 stables being placed in her neck.
As Carla said, it would have been an emotional event for anyone, but for a teenage girl who is overly self-aware of her appearance, the scar from the surgery left her even more emotionally drained.
“I was so self-conscious,” Carla said. “When I came out of that anesthesia I was asking for a mirror. I wasn’t vain, but I wanted to see a mirror.”
Carla was embarrassed about the scars from surgery, which were tearing her up on the inside. She was worried that kids were going to make fun of her.
However, her fears were eventually subdued when close friends and some of her other classmates started to bring her scarves to cover up her scars.
The generosity of her friends got Carla to thinking, “What can I do to help others. I don’t want them to go through what I went through.”
Carla has been passionate about sharing her story to other cancer survivors, hoping they understand they do not have to go through cancer alone.
“If I can help a young lady or tie a little scarf around a little girl and make them feel pretty, that is what it is all about,” she said. “You don’t feel pretty after you have been cut and you have scars.”
With the help and encouragement from Keri Unsworth and her marketing team, Carla started scarvesforscars.com. The idea of the scarves is not to just cover up the scares from surgery, but to also help with the emotional scares that comes with having cancer. It is to help cancer survivors recognize each other, so they understand they are never alone in their fight.
“Every cancer has a color, so we are going to work on getting different colored scarves for each of the different cancers,” she said.
For those wishing to buy a scarf for someone or themselves, they can visit Carla’s site at scarvesforscars.com.
“That is why I am bringing awareness to this, so these girls and guys out there realize they are not doing this alone,” Carla said. “It is okay to talk about it.”
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