Living another day to see the world Pink Out

A teacher and a mother survived breast cancer and aim to see more people helping in the fight against cancer


The doctor enters the room with a solemn face, sets his clipboard down, faces the patient and explains the situation as the patient begins to lose her emotions and tears stream down her face. The doctor announces that she has breast cancer and outlines the treatment plan.

This very conversation happened to color guard director, Renee Lawson and freshman Racheal Sizemore’s mother, Tammy Sizemore.

Sizemore’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013 after going to the doctor for a regular check up.

“I was scared,” Sizemore said. “[The doctors] said it was a lump, and she had breast cancer, and it was getting bigger.”

Lawson’s situation seemed much the same as she felt a small lump just a week after she went to the Race for the Cure in October 1999.

“I caught it early, had a lumpectomy and was referred for a second opinion in Dallas at UT Southwestern Cancer Center,” Lawson said. “When I found out that I had cancer, all I was concerned about was what I needed to do next to treat it.”

Lawson began chemotherapy treatment in Jan. and radiation in June for seven weeks. She also started a new drug, Herceptin, in November of 2000. During this time time her faith and family became her base.

“I always knew God was with me from the start and it was a great opportunity to use my faith and allow Him to help me get through it,” Lawson said. “My mother also came down every three weeks when I was having treatment and stayed a week, helping with the girls, cooking and doing laundry.”

Lawson survived her first tribulation, but in 2007 she found out that she had a different type of breast cancer and had surgery and chemo again.

“This time the process took much longer because I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction,” Lawson said. “I took about two years to get completely through the experience, but it was well worth it in the end.”

Lawson is thankful for her family again, but this time she had genetic testing done where she found that she had the BRCA 1 gene which is an inherited gene that increases risk of breast cancer. Lawson is also hopeful about the future of breast cancer research.

“Now my children are watched very carefully and we know that early detection is the key,” Lawson said. “Someday I pray for a vaccine that could reduce the risk of breast cancer or eliminate it completely.”

Sizemore’s mother started chemotherapy right away also, but Sizemore feared losing her when she was not around.

“I thought I was going to lose her or something was going to happen to her while I was at school,” Sizemore said. “I was worried that I would have to go the rest of my life without my mom.”

Although Sizemore was fearful about the future, she and her family helped out their mom in whatever way possible.

“My sister and I started helping her cook,” Sizemore said. “Every Thursday someone from my parents’ Sunday school would bring us food.”

The community helps those in need, and for Sizemore this showed her that she understands any family that goes through this process.

“It is not easy for a family to go through,” Sizemore said. “I have a lot of respect for people that have had [cancer] after watching my mom go through it because it was a really hard time.”

Sizemore has had other family members pass away from breast cancer but rejoices having her mom still here.

“I sympathize for other families that have lost loved ones from it,” Sizemore said. “I am just really grateful.”