“A real raffle for real people!” Former TMC patient wins big after devastating diagnosis

For Tucson resident Renee Sowards, life took a 180-degree turn in three short months.  In January, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her spine that required surgery. Since then, she has recovered and is healthy. She’s also driving a brand new Audi coupe, with an extra $14,000 in her bank account – all because of the care she received at TMC and a decision to buy tickets for TMC’s Mega Raffle.

Dr. Abhay Sanan & Renee Sowards

Dr. Abhay Sanan
& Renee Sowards

Shortly after her diagnosis, Sowards researched which neurosurgeon she would literally trust her life with.  She decided to go with TMC’s Dr. Abhay Sanan from the Center for Neurosciences.  She called his office to get the new patient process started and hadn’t even made an appointment yet when she received a phone call that confirmed she had made the right choice.

“My phone rang at eight o’clock on a Sunday night.  It was Dr. Sanan.  He said he needed to see me right away, and I told him I had jury duty the next day.  He paused and asked, ‘So I take it you’re still ambulatory?’  I knew right then that my situation was very serious,” she said.  “Because of where the tumor was located, I stood a great chance of losing my legs.”

Keigo & Mom

Sowards with Keigo

Two weeks later, Sowards was in the operating room.  Her surgery was a success.  When she learned she would spend the next five days at TMC recovering, Sowards had a unique request for hospital staff.  “I asked if Keigo, our 140-pound well-behaved Akita could stay with me in my room.”  To her surprise, the answer was yes.  “It was so comfortable to be able to sit in my chair and just rub my toes on him as he lay at my feet.  Having him there really helped me heal,” she said.  “My husband had a hard time leaving my side when I was going through this.  Knowing that I was receiving the best care and had Keigo with me gave him the peace of mind he needed to go home at night.”

Sowards recovered, and eventually headed back to work where a TMC Mega Raffle brochure arrived in the mail.  “I flipped through the pages and thought, ‘what a great way for TMC to raise money.’”  And then she saw a testimonial from one of Dr. Sanan’s other patients.  “When I saw that, I thought to myself – I had such excellent care at TMC, and Dr. Sanan was so wonderful, I’m going to buy three tickets as a way to pay it forward.”  Sowards was 12 years old the last time she won anything – four tickets to the Beatles’ first U.S. tour.  Needless to say, she never thought she’d actually win.  “I really just thought I was making a contribution to the hospital that gave me such great care.”

And then… she got the call.

Kathy Rice from the Mega Raffle told Sowards she was an Early Bird winner, and won one of three great prizes… but that she’d have to come down to the car dealership the next day to learn which fabulous prize it was.  “I pulled out my brochure and looked at the Early Bird prizes and was so excited!  I didn’t sleep at all that night.  I just kept thinking, ‘either I’m going to travel somewhere or I’m going to get a brand new car.’  Truthfully, I didn’t care which prize I won.  I was just delighted to be a winner!”


Sowards with her
2013 Audi A5

When she arrived at the dealership, Sowards learned $14,000 cash plus the 2013 Audi A5 Premium Plus Coupe Quattro Tiptronic was hers!  It was quite the change for the self-described “soccer mom” who has driven a minivan for the past 25 years to haul kids around town, or a pick-up truck to take the dog places.  “I still can’t believe it.  I keep getting up just to look at it in my driveway.  The TMC Mega Raffle is a real raffle for real people.  The hardest part about winning?  I had to break it to Keigo that no dogs are allowed in the new car!”

Sowards’ tickets get rolled over to the final Mega Raffle drawing on May 29.  To be entered into this drawing, you need to purchase your tickets by midnight, May 22.  Tickets are $100 each, or there are a limited number of 3-packs for $250.  Please click here for more information, and good luck!


  1. Cliff / Top says:

    I was so happy to see Renee Sowards won a very nice car. She and her husban are very special people.

  2. Aww! What an awesome surprise! Congratulations to Miss Sowards and wow that dog is gorgeous! How neat that tmc let him be there for her recovery 🙂


  1. I Blog says:

    Where Can I Buy Raffle

    […] great way for TMC to raise money.’”  And then she saw a testimonial from o […]

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