Memphis-area Race For The Cure participant Tonya Lyons breaks her three-year silence about the ‘untold story’ of breast cancer


Dr. Tonya Lyons, owner of New Image Family Dentistry in Southeast Memphis, was declared cancer-free exactly four months after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2009. She is a fixture in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race For The Cure that will take place Saturday morning at Saddle Creek in East Memphis. (Photo by Erica Coleman)

Two weeks ago, Dr. Tonya Lyons attended a seminar on Breast Cancer Awareness at a nearby church in Southaven, Miss. Considering she is a longtime health professional, she sensed it would be just another informative session in which she would acquire some additional knowledge to share with others who are perhaps fighting the dreaded disease.

But what she and others discovered during the brief session was something Lyons admittedly will remember for the rest of her life.

A breast cancer patient stood up and spoke about how her husband, who isn’t experiencing any form of cancer, would routinely convince doctors to allow him to sign a release form and join his wife in the radiation machine whenever she went in for treatment.

Lyons, clinging to the edge of her seat, was in awe as the woman continued to share what apparently was an emotional story with the audience.

“That blessed me,” Lyons said. “But my situation was not like that. “You’re like, ‘What was so wrong with me that my situation didn’t turn out like that?’”

That the woman felt it was the appropriate setting to break her silence about a seemingly personal situation that left a majority of the attendees fighting back tears, Lyons sensed it was time that she break hers.

Sitting in a conference room Monday afternoon at her New Image Family Dentistry facility in Southeast Memphis on what would have been her thirteenth wedding anniversary, Lyons told MemphiSport Magazine during its salute of Breast Cancer Awareness how her husband, former pastor Bill Anderson, abandoned their marriage within months of their tenth anniversary. Lyons, who has two children with Anderson, found it difficult to come to grips with what had transpired, in part because doctors had declared her cancer free at the time.

“He said, ‘We’re going to beat it,’” said Lyons, when asked what was her husband’s initial reaction after learning she had been stricken by breast cancer. “And he said we’ve got to tell the church. And then he preached on, ‘This Battle Is Not Yours, It’s The Lord’s.’”

Lyons said she even recalls days after she had been diagnosed how she and her husband were locked “arm in arm” as they paced back and forth across the pulpit, as if to say that they would persevere during her battle with the disease. Five months later, however, Lyons’ husband chose to go his separate way, leaving his wife to care after their two children who, at the time, were two and six years old.

Anderson eventually resigned as pastor of the East Memphis church he and his wife had established along with 40 individuals in June 2002.

“I thought I knew what I had,” Lyons said as she prepares to participate in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race For The Cure at Saddle Creek Saturday at 8 a.m. “He had been a good husband for almost 10 years. So getting sick was the last thing I thought would have caused that. Not only did I feel deceived, but the church felt deceived.”

Lyons, in fact, said that while speaking publicly for the first time about her broken marriage — the divorce is pending and is expected to be final by month’s end — is not an attempt to bring about criticism to her estranged husband, she stressed she is only revealing what she describes as the “untold story” surrounding married women who become breast cancer victims.

Things are holding up well nowadays for Lyons, although she battled breast cancer and faced divorce simultaneously in 2009. During last year’s Race For The Cure event, Lyons posed for a photo with several members of the University of Memphis women’s basketball team. (Photo by Kelli Nicole Anderson)

“I actually did some (online) studies,” Lyons explains.

What she discovered, she said, was that seven out of 10 married women who become diagnosed with breast cancer ultimately witness their marriage end in divorce.

“I guess spiritually, you look at it like, ‘Wow!’ Especially with him being a pastor. “I had, really, almost two trials, two tragedies going on at the same time. In the midst of my sickness, my spouse couldn’t deal with me being sick. In his mind, he had written me off.”

Lyons, who is a native of Cairo, Ill. and has been practicing dentistry in Memphis for the past 18 years since graduating from Jackson State University, learned she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2009 when she decided she needed to lose weight. While in the shower one morning, she discovered a lump on her breast, which prompted her to schedule a visit with her physician.

Oddly, she had an annual exam performed by her primary specialist 17 days prior to meeting with a physician. But according to her, her doctor “missed the lump.” Fortunately for Lyons, she managed to reduce her weight by 35 pounds over three months through dieting and regular exercise. That’s because doctors informed her had she not lost weight, it would have been difficult to detect the lump, which could have potentially increased the risk of her entering Stage 4 of breast cancer.

In other words, the cancer could have spread throughout other areas of her body, most notably the bones, brains, lungs, and liver.

After doctors located the lump, Lyons was at Stage 2, a slightly more advanced form of breast cancer, although the cancer customarily had not spread to a distant part of the body. Lyons sensed her diagnosis had stemmed from having four miscarriages between 1999 and 2006 or from giving birth during what she deems a late stage in her life.

She gave birth to her first child when she was 35, her second when she was 40.


Despite an array of hardships in recent years, Lyons said she is as happy as she has been is some time. “Life is good now, even after divorce, even after breast cancer,” she said. (Photo by Kelli Nicole Anderson)

“They were like, ‘Come back in two weeks for your biopsy,’” Lyons said. “The radiologist knew what he was looking at when he asked me did anyone drive with me to have the mammogram. Being a health professional, I knew that he knew it was cancer. It was a tremendous amount of fear. When you hear the word cancer, you automatically think that you’re going to die. I called one of my distant cousins in Jackson (Miss.), who is an 11-year (breast cancer) survivor, and she told me to relax, breath, and that it’s not a death sentence.”

Still, Lyons’ husband, whose mother died of colon cancer in January 2000, wasn’t convinced that his wife would survive what undoubtedly was the biggest crisis during their marriage. The couple, in fact, attempted to salvage their union, traveling as far as to Los Angeles for counseling.

In reality, the flight to L. A. was a huge time-waster, of sorts.

“He started crying when the doctors said I was cancer free,” Lyons said. “He told the (marriage) counselor he stayed those months because he was waiting for me to die.”

Anderson, one of Memphis’ most successful young pastors at the time, abandoned his family roughly one month after his wife had taken her final round of chemotherapy. Prior to his marriage to Lyons, he had been married three previous times.

Consequently, Lyons’ mother, Martha Sanders, became her primary care-giver. And, with the support of fellow church members, other family members, and close acquaintances, she ultimately weathered the storm of arguably the most tumultuous moments of her life.

Surely, the healing process seemed downright unbearable at times, Lyons admits. But just like her four-month battle with breast cancer, she overcame it.

Never mind that she and her husband would have celebrated 13 years of marriage on Monday.

“I’m thinking more so about how God is,” Lyons said as she sat back in her chair, wiping away tears. “When God said He wanted me to be a spokesperson for something, I thought it was going to be for miscarriages. Life is good for me now even after divorce, even after cancer. I’m just loving life.”

Loving life, as she quickly pointed out, certainly isn’t a time-waster.

Not by a long shot.

Andre Johnson is a regular  contributor for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Local identical twin breast cancer victims to host Twins Race For The Cure in hometown


Identical twins LaTonya McKinney and LaSonya Thomas both were diagnosed with breast cancer at different stages in their lives. McKinney (right)is now cancer-free, while Thomas is still in remission.

LaTonya McKinney and LaSonya Thomas are identical twins who were born five minutes apart in December 1969. Ever since, they have been virtually inseparable.

Growing up in a two-bedroom house in Coldwater, Miss., McKinney and Thomas slept in the same bed. From the time they started school until they graduated from Memphis Hillcrest High in 1988, they enrolled in the same classes. When they grew old enough to move out of their parents’ home, they became roommates in their first apartment. Ironically, after meeting the love of their lives, they had a double wedding in 2001.

“We have a special bond,” Thomas, the youngest of the two, told MemphiSport in its salute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “It’s the norm for us to be together everyday, all day.”
Oddly, a little more than six years ago, McKinney and Thomas’s close-knit relationship took a shocking, demoralizing twist.
McKinney, who was 36 at the time, had been complaining about recurring chest pains. She sensed that such discomfort might have stemmed from excessive lifting and fatigue in the shipping department at her job.
“A young lady and I was talking and I was complaining of chest pains,” McKinney recalls. “So when the pain continued, she said, ‘Girl, you need to gone and go get checked out.”
McKinney eventually met with her personal physician, who arranged for her to visit with a cancer specialist. Consequently, the specialist suggested that she have a mammogram performed. What transpired afterward is something about which McKinney admittedly left her at a loss for words. Two weeks later, while driving home from work, McKinney fielded a phone call from her doctor, who told her she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
After learning of such news, McKinney was downright bewildered.
“I didn’t have a response at all,” said McKinney, explaining her initial reaction. “I didn’t know how to respond, didn’t feel any anger. It was just some information that was given to me. My mom came over and then asked me if I wanted to cry. But I didn’t feel like crying.”
Conversely, McKinney’s twin responded much differently after learning she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thomas, in fact, got news that she had been stricken by the disease in August 2009, a little more than three years after McKinney’s diagnosis.
It all started with a tear-jerking dream, she recalls.
“My mom had a dream of someone who had cancer, but she didn’t see a face,” Thomas said. “So she suggested that my younger sister, Stephanie, and I had better go get checked and both of us did.”

Thomas, the youngest of the twins, is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at UT Medical-DeSoto in 2010. Doctors expect her to become cancer-free as early as 2013.

One minute, she’s born five minutes after McKinney. Nearly four decades later, she discovered she had been swindled by the same deadly disease her older twin had acquired three years prior.

“I was the one who had the cancer,” Thomas, who was 39 at the time, said. “I was the face (her mom) didn’t see. Fortunately for me, I was at the cancer center and not driving. I tried to hold it together because I don’t like to see my mom cry. But in the lobby, I was in a ball.”
Nevertheless, McKinney and Thomas ultimately came to grips with having attracted breast cancer. Because of their faith, support from their mother, Juanita Massey (a longtime minister), their father, Rosebur Thomas (the former mayor of Coldwater), let alone the resilence they have exhibited in fighting the disease, they have joined forces to share their life-changing story and offer community service throughout Tate County and neighboring areas.
On Saturday at 10 am, the twins will host their second annual “Twins Race For The Cure Walk/Run” at Coldwater High. The event, which will cover between two-to-three miles, is expected to attract an estimated 200 participants, twice as many that turned out last year. In year’s past, McKinney said their event, which is funded through the Susan G. Komen Foundation, didn’t produce a large turnout, largely because they don’t function as if they are cancer patients.
Last September, for instance, the twins established Mid-South Steerler Nation, an organization that aims to attract local die-hard Pittburgh Steelers fans to participate in various community-related activities. The group, which currently consists of 214 members, occasionally take charter bus trips to watch the Steelers play. Their latest tour was to Nashville for the October 11 Steelers versus the Tennessee Titans game.
As for their ongoing battle with breast cancer, it’s safe to assume these inseparable twins essentially are at the halfway point of conquering a disease that, according to a 2011 report on, resulted in nearly a quarter of a million new cases among American women last year. That’s because after undergoing six months of chemotherapy in 2006 and an additional five years of medical treatment, doctors declared McKinney cancer-free in January 2011.

Despite their battles with breast cancer, among McKinney and Thomas’ recent projects is establishing Mid-South Steeler Nation, an organization comprised of more than 200 Pittsburgh Steeler fans.

Of course, Thomas, just like at birth, isn’t too far behind her sister.
She has undergone chemotherapy for the past three years and is currently in remission. Like McKinney, doctors anticipate she will make a full recovery as early as 2013. Which, of course, is among the reasons they don’t function like cancer patients. In two years, both will be free of breast cancer. However, their mission to help fight the disease will continue.
“We want to let people know who we are and to let them know we went through other people’s tragedy,”  McKinney said. “When people come up to me, I tell them I am a cancer survivor. And they say, ‘I’m sorry.’ They look at it as a tragedy. But I’m a survivor.”
Just like at birth, her twin sister isn’t too far behind.
Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Countdown to 3rd Annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest

Andy Ashby joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to preview the 3rd Annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest coming this Saturday, October 13, 2012.


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Click here to download the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest conversation from the October 6, 2012 MSL

MSL is a proud sponsor of the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest.

Click here for more info on the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010, 2011 & 2012 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @marcus_hunter

Countdown to the 1st Ever Best Memphis Burger Fest

Seth Agranov joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL for a final preview of the 1st Ever Best Memphis Burger Fest coming this Sunday, September 30 at Minglewood Hall.


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Click here to download the Best Memphis Burger Fest conversation from the September 24, 2012 MSL

MSL is a proud sponsor of the 1st Ever Best Memphis Burger Fest.

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010 & 2011 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @marcus_hunter

VIDEO: What was happening on RAW when Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler collapsed

Here is the video of what was happening on WWE Monday Night RAW when wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler collapsed while doing commentary on the match between Kane & Daniel Bryan and The Prime Time Players (Viewer Discretion is Advised):

UPDATE:  Click here for an update on Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler’s health status from his girlfriend

MORE VIDEO: Click here for fan footage of Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler being stretchered out following his collapse

-The King says something about a sledgehammer at the beginning, then nothing else

-Can see The King around the :57 mark

-”Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” chants start around 2:17 mark

We will have more information as it develops.

Follow @memphisport & @cerrito on Twitter for instant updates.

Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler’s girlfriend updates his health status following his collapse on RAW

Here is the latest on wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler’s health status from the Facebook page of his girlfriend Lauryn McBride:

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. It has been confirmed that Jerry did have a heart attack…he is in stable condition and breathing on his own & heart is stable. I’m getting on the first flight out of here to be with him & will keep everyone posted. He is a strong man and we will get him back at his best as soon as I can get him home! I love you so so much baby!!

Lawler collapsed Monday evening in Montreal while commentating ringside during WWE’s live RAW broadcast on the USA Network. Earlier in the show, The King competed in a tag team match with Randy Orton vs. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler.

We will have more information as it develops.

Follow @memphisport & @cerrito on Twitter for instant updates.

-Photo by Sharon Bicks.

Mid-South sprinter is having an impact on amatuer circuit for Shelby Youth Sports

Brooke Owens, a seventh grader at Shadow Lawn Middle School, has set a number of records in the 100, 200, and 400-meter dash since joining Shelby Youth Sports as a Kindergartner.        (Photos by John Tucker) 


As it turns out, daughter knew best all along.

Brooke Owens always clung to lofty aspirations of becoming an avid track and field athlete. Even when she was too young to compete at the amateur level, she sensed that she would eventually relish the opportunity of demonstrating why she had gained an interest for the sport long before ever partaking in her first competitive event.

Although her father, Antonio Owens, a former prep track and field standout for Bartlett High, told her time and again that, for a four-year-old, she was too young to run, Brooke kept tugging and jerking away at his T-shirt as a figurative memo, of sorts, that someday she will ultimately prove that she can have an even greater impact than her older brother, Joshua, who was already competing in amateur meets at the time.

“I told her, ‘I know you can, just sit there,’” said Antonio Owens, recalling a conversation he and his daughter had during a meet for her brother at the Briarcrest Sportsplex about eight years ago. “She kept telling me she can do it too.”

Approximately a year later, Brooke’s golden opportunity to compete surfaced when her parents signed her up with Shelby Youth Sports, a non-profit, community based youth sports athletic association comprised of several member areas throughout the Mid-South.

Besides track and field, SYS, one of the largest providers of community-based after-school programs in the Shelby-Metro area, also offers cheerleading and football.

For Brooke, it seems she is benefiting immensely from having exemplified a dauntless desire to engage in track and field. That’s because not only has she has flourished on the track in recent years, but she has evolved into one of SYS’s up-and-coming sprinters, particularly in her age group. Earlier this year, for instance, she set an assortment of records and garnered a number of awards after placing first in the 100, 200, and 400-meter dash.

“Everytime I get a better record, it’s in either the 400 and 200,” said Brooke, a seventh grader at Shadow Lawn Middle School. “(Competing) is special to me. I chose track and field because my brother is a good runner. But I told him I could do just as better. So I ran the same events as my brother. Conditioning…it’s tough. My dad pushes me just about everyday.”

Fortunately for the speedy 12-year-old sprinter, who hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down anytime soon, it didn’t take long for her to find her niche as a young athlete. That, according to her mother, Kendra Owens, makes her devout plea to embrace the sport seven years ago much more appeasing.

“The thing that’s unique about her records is that she runs in regular shoes,” Kendra said. “They don’t get to run in spikes like the girls AAU. And Brooke’s times are right up there in regular shoes.”

Oddly, when Brooke, who frequently competes in the long jump event, first came under the radar as a sprinter, her parents were more than 4,100 miles away from Memphis, vacationing in Hawaii. Antonio, in fact, remembers all too well how he fielded a slew of phone calls from his brother, who was astonished by his niece’s presence as a newcomer to the sport.

Owens, whose says her favorite athlete is three-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, is hopeful to compete in the AAU ranks next year.



“Kendra and I got calls from my brother, who said, ‘Man, you just don’t know, this girl can run really, really fast,’” said Antonio, who trains regularly with his daughter as many as six days a week. “I was thinking, she told me she could do it.”

Although Brooke, whose favorite athlete is international sprinter Allyson Felix, a three-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA in the recent London Games, is two years away from competing in the high school ranks, her parents are seriously considering allowing her to compete in the AAU ranks as early as next year.

Of course, if such talks of being upgraded to AAU aren’t routinely discussed in the Owens household over the next few months, chances are Brooke will likely revert back to tugging and jerking away at her father’s T-shirt much like she did while watching from the bleachers at Briarcrest seven years ago. After all, such a gesture proved beneficial for her at the time.

“We plan to let her get the feel of what it’s like to represent Memphis,” Kendra said. “Memphis is really a track and field town. She’s very focused on and off the track. She’s on the principal’s list and honor roll, and I just pray she’s get a (track and field) scholarship.”

Considering how she she has gone about making her presence felt for SYS in the recent years, Brooke’s father doesn’t shy away from the notion that she has made a believer out of him, in large part because her peers and coaches have been highly complementary of her fundamentals of late.

“The sky’s the limit for her,” he said, chuckling.

As it turns out, daughter knew best all along.

Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.









1st Ever Best Memphis Burger Fest set to debut in Midtown on Sept 30

Seth Agranov joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to talk about the 1st Ever Best Memphis Burger Fest coming to Minglewood Hall on September 30, 2012.


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Click here to download the Best Memphis Burger Fest conversation from the July 14, 2012 MSL

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) on Sports 56 & 87.7 FM every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Radio Show in the 2010 & 2011 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito @marcus_hunter

Big weekend for Kings

Well finally hockey is back. It seemed like the Kings just disappeared. I’m so full of turkey, I’m going to bust.

It’s a big test for the Kings this weekend. First they have to play three games in three days. Second, they will get ripped by me after the three games if they don’t start playing some good hockey.

Your Mississippi RiverKings SIT AT THE BOTTOM.(2-4-0).

Lets get at it: Mississippi is in Knoxville, tonight, Starting time for tonights game is 6:35 p.m.

Saturday: A rematch against the Bears at the DeSoto Civic Center, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday: Columbus is in town and that game goes at the DCC, the starting time for that one is 3:05 p.m.

A few trades this past week. Coach Derek Landmesser made two trades.

The Kings’ picked up goalkeeper David Wilson from Augusta. Get this he was traded to the Mississippi RiverKings for cash. (I didn’t think we had any cash) Plus we got defenseman Chris Pontes from Pensacola. Kings Ryan Ramage got the axe and now he is in Pensacola.

Deven Stillar has signed a 3 game tryout with the Kings. He played one game with the Bucks of the CHL this season.

He plays right wing, and he didn’t have bad numbers in junior hockey. 65 points last year with the Flin Flon Bombers, the year before that 56pts. with Fin Flon and 52pts. the year before that with the Melfort Mustangs. Those three teams are in the SJHL. The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in Canada. Good luck to him !!

Away game watch party, tonight at the Spot in Hernando.The party begins at 6:35 p.m.

Joe Sports thoughts on this triple header coming up:

The Kings have to at least get four points this weekend. Hey we only have to win two of three.

As I said at the beginning of the season, I would give this edition of the Kings 7 games. They got lucky, because now I’m giving them the weekend also. 9 games total. I will have my report card  ON THIS TEAM next week.

Games: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9- The Kings are 2-4.

 That’s the way I see it and I’m Joe Sports.

Have something to say to Mr.Sports.

Email me at:

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SPHL standings

Game Day: Friday.




  • Upcoming Games:
Fri., November 25 Huntsville at Columbus

7:30 p.m.

Fri., November 25 Pensacola at Augusta

7:35 p.m.

Fri., November 25 Mississippi RiverKings at Knoxville

7:35 p.m.

Fri., November 25 Mississippi Surge at Louisiana

8:05 p.m.

Saturday: A rematch against the Bears at the DeSoto Civic Center, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday: Columbus is in town and that game goes at the DCC, the starting time for that one is 3:05 p.m.