Heather Lyons had more than enough on her plate before being diagnosed with breast cancer in early March.
A full-time job at Windsor High School teaching significant support needs in the special education department during the day, and a mother of four children — Austin, 12; twin 10-year-old boys Aidan and Ajay; and daughter Amy, 4 — 24/7, Lyons and her husband Marc didn’t have time for much else.
Enter Lyons’ cancer diagnosis, which was in stage 1, and the fact that she only took three weeks off from school following a double mastectomy April 2, Lyons, 39, wasn’t about to let cancer stand in her way.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month falls every October, and the Windsor High School volleyball team is doing its part by raising money to help Lyons pay for future medical treatments.
The volleyball team raises money for breast cancer awareness every year for the local group Breast Friends or for someone in the community, and has been doing so since the Colorado High School Activities Association started its Dig Pink month several years ago.
“I think it’s nice for the girls to be involved in a community service,” head volleyball coach LaVerne Huston said. “Anytime there is someone from the community or someone well connected to Windsor High School, we always look at possibly sending funds their way, and this year it was Heather Lyons.”
The volleyball program has raised anywhere from $300 to $1,600 each year.
“All money that is earned will go to Heather Lyons,” Huston said.
Lyons’ teaching colleague Kristin Ervin, who is an assistant volleyball coach for the Wizards, said there is really no way to prepare for something like this.
“That’s when we as a community need to come together and help support one another,” Ervin said. “Windsor’s known for that.”
Ervin said Lyons has been amazing since her diagnosis.
“She didn’t skip a beat through all of this, and has never been one to dwell on herself,” Ervin said. “I thought she was incredibly strong through the whole thing. To balance what she went through as far as medically, and her children are young. I can’t even imagine. And still have to go through all the treatments right now with a family, and still coming to work in a very taxing and giving environment. It’s not like she can sit back and relax when she’s at school. There’s no way she can do that. See’s a very special lady. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She’s a strong woman.”
Lyons admits that it’s been a crazy six months.
“Finding it and having it was a big shock, because we don’t have any family history. I am really tired in the evenings, no doubt about it,” Lyons said. “I fall asleep in my chair around 8 o’clock every night, and that’s about the time I put my kids down. I don’t sit idle very well. I love my job, and I work with really great people. I’ve had a great support system, which has helped keep everything going.”
Lyons didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments with the type of breast cancer she was diagnosed with, but she has to take drug treatments for five years to keep the cancer from developing again in her body. Lyons is scheduled to have a hysterectomy in December, and looks forward to the doctor telling her she’s cancer free in five years.
“They feel like after five years that you should be free and clear,” said Lyons, who has taught at the high school for six years. “I’m not considered a survivor until the end of the five years when I’m done with all the treatments, but I do not have any cancer in my system currently.”
“That’s when we as a community need to come together and help support one another. Windsor’s known for that.
Assistant volleyball coach