Six Months to Live . . .: Three Guys on the Ultimate Quest for a Miracle

Six Months to Live . . .: Three Guys on the Ultimate Quest for a Miracle

Six Months to Live . . .: Three Guys on the Ultimate Quest for a Miracle

Six Months to Live . . .: Three Guys on the Ultimate Quest for a Miracle


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Artie Boyle was a run-of-the-mill American hockey dad. Then terminal cancer happened. The best doctors despaired. And Artie dared to look for a miracle. Artie had never put much stock in mysticism or miracles. But when his best friends bought tickets to fly with him to Croatia to the controversial shrine at Medjugorje where healings were known to happen, he dared it all. They found themselves in powerful ways sharing spiritually, even praying together, something they would have found very odd before. And when they came home Artie was healed—completely. The cancer was gone. The doctors at Mass General Hospital were astounded yet could offer no explanation. Six Months to Live relates not only Artie’s miraculous healing but his spiritual transformation and the hope and inspiration he offers to thousands who hear his story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780824520205
Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company
Publication date: 05/15/2014
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 369,539
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Arthur P. Boyle has traveled the world speaking to thousands of people in North and South America and Europe since his miraculous healing from cancer in Medjugorje in 2000. He and his wife Judy have 13 children, including professional hockey player Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers. He lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. Eileen McAvoy Boylen is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. She also runs a successful communications consulting business writing web copy, marketing materials and e-newsletters for companies in the Boston Area. She lives in Hull, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

Six Months to Live

Three Guys on the Ultimate Quest for a Miracle

By Arthur P. Boyle, Eileen McAvoy Boylen

The Crossroad Publishing Company

Copyright © 2014 Arthur P. Boyle
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8245-2053-3


Teenage Newlyweds

We started our married life with no jobs, no college degrees, and very little money. Yet, we were happy. And the people who said we would fail were dead wrong.

On December 29, 1973, I celebrated my nineteenth birthday. Six weeks later I was married. Judy Foley was eighteen, my first girlfriend — and luckily for me, the love of my life. I was thirteen when I fell in love with her (she was twelve), and we have been together ever since.

Judy was shagging baseballs for her dad at a little league tryout and when he picked me for his team, I'm sure he wasn't picturing a potential son-in-law! As she tells the story, I became her first boyfriend, and her dad's worst nightmare. Her father had very strong feelings about her "dating" at such an early age and he made no bones about it. From the very beginning, there was much conflict over our young love.

But our wedding day proved to be beautiful. There had been a blizzard the day before and everything was covered with fresh white snow, the "first day" kind that sticks to the tree branches and covers the streets and sidewalks. It was a large wedding with 225 guests at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on Sea Street in Quincy, Massachusetts, where Judy had made all her sacraments, followed by a reception at the Sons of Italy. Most of the wedding party was too young to drink the wedding toast and many of the guests were too.

Judy was absolutely radiant. She was, and is, a gorgeous woman; and that day she wore a borrowed gown and the hairstyle most popular at proms that year, banana curls. We weren't far past proms ourselves. We had a car — well ... Judy had a car, but this was an unusual time in American history. An oil embargo had created a major gasoline shortage. So, instead of driving off into the sunset with "just married" on the rear window, we relied on trains, buses, and taxis for our honeymoon in the Poconos.

Judy was at peace about our marriage because we had been together so long, and she took the sacrament very seriously. She understood her new responsibilities and had a good idea how her life was about to change.

I didn't. I knew I loved her. I'd never loved anyone else. But I also remember thinking how great it was to be getting out of my parents' house.

We started our married life with no jobs, no college degrees, and very little money. Yet, we were happy. And the people who said we would fail were dead wrong.

Judy was clearly the adult in the relationship. She had been working at Friendly's Ice Cream and managing her own money since she was sixteen. I was definitely not mature enough to be married, and certainly not ready to become a father. But we both got jobs. I worked nights so Judy could be home during the day and we shared one car for transportation.

She found us a small apartment with trendy shag carpeting and brand new appliances, making her the envy of all her friends. When my mother suggested we live in the projects in Germantown for $60 a month, Judy was horrified. I had begun my life in Boston's Columbia Point public housing and couldn't see the down side. But Judy prevailed and we set up housekeeping on West Street in Quincy.

Jen was born later that year and we became a family. Judy and I were both ecstatic, but we had so little money that when friends came to visit, they often brought a gallon of milk instead of a bottle of wine. People were very generous. Once someone anonymously left a $20 bill in our mailbox, and we were thrilled because it nearly covered our weekly grocery bill.

Judy's mother had had eight children and taught her to keep house at an early age. So, she soon eradicated my slovenly ways. I learned to clean, change diapers, heat bottles, and do laundry, and when her father came to the door one day finding me with a baby in one arm and a vacuum cleaner in the other, he asked Judy, "What have you done to him?"

We decided then — although in hindsight it might have been more at Judy's direction — to be open to as many children as God wanted to give us. However, we underestimated his generosity and never expected to be entrusted with thirteen perfect little souls!

We had three children in three years. Our first son was born the year after Jen and we named him Artie, Jr. I was thrilled to have a boy. I had given up college hockey for marriage and hoped that one of my children could someday live out my dream of competing for an NCAA championship. Confident the baby would have Jen's intelligence and our combined athletic ability (Judy was a track star, gymnast and cheerleader in high school), I couldn't wait to see him excel in competitive sports. But that wasn't to be.

Little Artie walked and talked later than Jen and his younger sister, Michelle, (born the following year), and we started noticing unusual behavior when he was about eighteen months. He wasn't making eye contact, he started withdrawing, and did odd things like biting blocks or leaving the room when we were talking to him. Sandwiched between Jen and Michelle who were both very bright and verbal, his actions really stood out.

Judy was studying early childhood education at a local college and knew something was wrong. I simply refused to see it. She took him to Children's Hospital in Boston for tests, and it became apparent that he had major cognitive issues. They diagnosed him with autism. When the doctor used the word "retarded," a commonly accepted term then, I wanted to punch him in the face. We learned that Artie would not live the life we had imagined. In fact, he would struggle with the smallest of daily tasks.

I had no training for this. What was I supposed to do with him? My first, and at the time, only son. I was distraught. And very, very, angry. We laid awake nights wondering what would happen to him. Would he ever graduate from high school? Hold a job? Get married? We finally had to accept that we were the parents of an autistic child. This was extremely difficult. Back then we could never have anticipated the joy that he would bring to us and to the rest of the family. And he still does to this day.

We made sure that Artie, Jr., participated in as many activities as possible. He learned to swim. He played hockey on a special needs team I coached. When the family went skiing, I would tie a rope around his waist so he could go down the mountain laughing in front of me. He loved it.

When Artie turned eighteen, his two closest siblings were going to college and he wanted to go, too. He couldn't, of course. But we wanted to send him somewhere he could continue his education and learn to live independently. One of the hardest things we have ever done is to let Artie enroll at Cardinal Cushing School in Hanover, Massachusetts. This residential program for students with various mental and behavioral challenges allowed him to live outside our sheltered home for the first time, and helped him transition to an "after twenty-two" adult group home. Today he lives with his roommate, Lionel, in his own apartment. Artie, Jr., works during the day and one of us, or his siblings, stays with them at night. He's very proud of his independence and we are, too.

Our eighth child, Joseph Anthony, was born on October 1, 1986. A seemingly happy and healthy baby, he wouldn't live to see his first birthday. When he was just eight weeks old, Judy went to his crib one morning and found him unresponsive. I don't think I have ever heard a scream like hers that morning. It was primal, otherworldly — pain, horror, anguish and fear, all rolled into one heartbreaking sound. "Call 911!" she cried out as I ran from the second floor. Our school aged children were lined up on the stairs, watching as I desperately tried to revive their new baby brother. The ambulance arrived in minutes, but at the hospital the doctors told us Joseph had been gone before we found him and that there was nothing anyone could have done. I will never forget the cold November day that Judy cradled his small white casket in her lap from the funeral home to St. Paul's cemetery.

It was one of the lowest moments of our lives. We struggled with it individually and as a family for many years. To some degree we still do, and probably always will. Not long after his death, we sold our house and moved so we wouldn't be reminded of that terrible day every time we passed his room.

The pain of losing Joseph was unimaginable, and the kids were severely traumatized. Judy, as always, turned to prayer. I turned to hockey and other sports. She wanted to talk, to go to support groups. I didn't. Finally one day, feeling alone in her grief, she actually sat on top of me, grabbed me by the chin, and said I had to open up and talk about our loss. You can't be subtle with me. It often takes a strong physical stimulus to get my attention. For years it seemed Judy and I were on the same team but playing under completely different coaches.

You see, I didn't have her faith. I was, for lack of a better description, a "convenience Catholic." Yes, I believed in God, and I went to church because I thought it made me a good person and a good father. I believed that without religion there would be complete social anarchy. But I rarely thought about God. People who knew me then might say, "Well, weren't you involved in CCD and Pre-Cana, and other parish programs?" I was. However, that had been Judy's wish and something I'd felt we should do as a couple. I never really thought about it. I am ashamed to say I had no personal relationship with God and drew no real strength or comfort from his presence.

People often wonder why we chose to have thirteen children. Some of them even wonder this aloud to us! But we feel blessed by each of them. Judy will look at our youngest and say "What did we ever do without Andrew? How did we ever get along without him?" She feels the same way about each of them. And I do too.

After Artie Jr.'s diagnosis, and then Joseph's death, many people thought we shouldn't have any more. And watching the pain we endured then, I'm sure that advice was well-intended. Even Judy's faith was tested, and there were many tears, sleepless nights, and great anger about what had happened to us and to our family. We kept asking each other, "Why?" But there were no answers.

In fact, for a year Judy thought to herself, "Okay, God. I've said 'yes' to you all these years. I've done everything you've asked of me. From here on in, you're on your own. I'm not helping anymore." She says it was reading the Book of Job that opened her eyes. Job was a man who felt betrayed by God and was angry that he hadn't protected him, who thought he knew better than God. But God replies to Job in Chapter 38, "Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size; do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who lay the cornerstone while the morning stars sang in chorus?" He reminds Job who hung those stars, who created the sea, who commanded the morning and showed dawn its place. From meditating on this story, Judy finally came to see that God needed nothing from her. Quite the opposite. She would never understand why he took Joseph. But he was still God. And she was still just Judy.

Faith sustains you in both the best and worst of times, but it doesn't spare you. Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus. We each will have reasons to weep. Ultimately, Judy's trust in a loving God helped us to heal and move forward. She still believed that when God provides children, he doesn't leave you alone to care for them. He follows up.

We didn't keep having children because we expected them all to be perfect. In fact, none of them is perfect. We didn't know that one of our children would become a doctor, or that another would be a first-round NHL draft pick, any more than we knew one would have autism and another would die in his crib. We kept having children because we loved them, and they were the glue that held the family together. We wanted to be happy, and despite the challenges, we were.

People who knew us at our seven-bedroom home on Olmsted Drive might be very surprised by our humble beginnings in that little apartment on West Street. We had our first five children in relative poverty before we could afford our first tiny two-bedroom house across from our former junior high. Twenty-one years, eleven children, and seven moves later, we arrived at the Hingham home where this journey began.


Something's Not Right

Although I didn't know it, this was the beginning of a journey that would change all of our lives forever.

In September 1999, we were just an average American family living in the suburbs of Boston. Well — average for a family of thirteen children, with seven still living at home, and three away at college. Unlike us, most people don't pay for diapers and college tuitions simultaneously; our parenting and financial responsibilities were enormous. Life was chaotic in the Boyle household, but my wife and I thrived on it, and worked hard to carve out solo time for each of the children. It's not easy being one of thirteen, so we knew that individual attention was very important.

Judy is a master of organization, with her color-coded charts and calendars in our mudroom, and she manages the family like a well-oiled machine. There are file folders for each of the children containing all their school records, schedules, and other vital information. We have occasionally forgotten to pick someone up from school or activities, but for the most part the system has worked as planned.

First-time visitors to our home sometimes ask if we are moving houses, because every surface is clean and there's not a thing out of place. We actually have moved a lot — Judy gets the bug every three years or so — but she's such a meticulous housekeeper that things always look perfect. My wife firmly believes that God controls our lives, but she controls our environment. And if everyone left his or her belongings around the house, with all the hockey sticks, pads, soccer balls, and dirty uniforms, it would look like one big locker room. Even out of those uniforms, our children, by necessity, have learned to work as a team and we have been thrilled to see them become best friends.

Most of them were born here in Hingham, a coastal community fifteen miles southeast of Boston. Its downtown harbor area is lined with buildings dating back to the Revolutionary War, and on its perimeter stand the stately homes of sea captains who flourished in America's early maritime economy. We have lived at six different addresses since we arrived in 1982, and our children consider this town "home."

For the most part, life here was good. Somehow, in between the kids' school and recreational activities, I still managed to play sports and enjoy the company of my wife of twenty-five years. My primary goal was to be a good husband and father, and for the most part, I thought I was. Then everything changed.

In August 1999 I was on the fourth hole at Hatherly Country Club in Scituate, a neighboring town, when I first experienced the burning sensation. It felt like I had swallowed a flame. The heat started from deep inside, emanating through my entire body. I had never experienced anything like it in my life. Although I had felt my usual energy at the outset, I was now suddenly too fatigued to continue. As a good golfer with a competitive nature and passion for the sport, I had never quit before the eighteenth hole. But now I just couldn't go on.

A few weeks later, at the beginning of a new hockey season, I drove to the rink but never got beyond the locker room because I was suddenly too exhausted to play. In fact, the very idea of putting on skates was overwhelming. The opening game was always exhilarating for me but that day I felt like I was slogging in wet cement. Why? I just couldn't understand it. I was only forty-four years old and had always been in perfect health. Or so I thought.

The burning feeling on the golf course was new, but I started to remember how tired I had been at our daughter Jen's wedding the previous month. It was a destination wedding at Disneyworld and we were all thrilled to be there. Jen is our oldest child and was the second to marry. The wedding itself was a big deal, not to mention the kids' excitement about the setting. But I was constantly fatigued. The days would start well but I would go downhill quickly, and my eagerness to visit Epcot or one of the other theme parks drained away. I dragged myself there for the kids, but had to stop and rest often. At night I faded fast and I didn't even want to dance at the wedding reception. This was not like me. I didn't know what was wrong at the time, so I attributed my weariness to Florida's summer heat, to travel, and to lack of sleep.


Excerpted from Six Months to Live by Arthur P. Boyle, Eileen McAvoy Boylen. Copyright © 2014 Arthur P. Boyle. Excerpted by permission of The Crossroad Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Preface xvii

Prologue xxi

1 Teenage Newlyweds 1

2 Something's Not Right 11

3 Tested 17

4 Prayer Warriors 29

5 Medjugorje Messengers 45

6 September 4, 2000 53

7 Strangers in a Strange Land 61

8 Visit with a Visionary 69

9 Forgiveness 79

10 The Triumph of the Cross 89

11 Miracle on the Mountain 103

12 Homecoming 111

13 The Fruits of Faith 115

14 The Message Goes Viral 125

Acknowledgments 141

About the Authors 146

About the Publisher 147

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