Allen School Controller Advocates for Breast Cancer Awareness on Capitol Hill
This spring, Arlene Palmer, who has been Allen School’s financial controller for almost twenty-five years, performed yet another one of her ongoing good deeds, this time on behalf of Breast Cancer Awareness. Along with a large advocacy group, Arlene traveled to Washington, DC, directly to Capitol Hill, to support research programs for the “underserved,” those women stricken with breast cancer who have no health insurance. Statistics indicate that one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes. Arlene’s interest in the area of Breast Cancer Advocacy began more than seven years ago when she offered to research a way for a friend of a friend, a woman without health insurance, to obtain a free mammogram. At just around that time, a neighbor of Arlene’s contracted breast cancer and lived just long enough to see her first grandchild, then dying within the year. Arlene realized that women at every level were being stricken with breast cancer, irrespective of their ability to finance treatment. It was then that Arlene committed to participating in the ongoing battle to end the scourge that defines so many women’s lives. Arlene, a very active woman whose husband, Shelly, is a retired Phys Ed teacher in the NYC school system, began by signing up for the marathon walk that Avon sponsors annually for the cause. This monumentally strenuous event involves extensive walking, 26 miles the first day, sleeping in tents, and then walking another 13 miles, all over a single weekend. “I figured, I am always active,” Arlene said, “so why not do a walk and raise money that will benefit the underserved and, hopefully, one day find a cure so that we won’t have to continue to walk because we have to, but because we want to?” Arlene participated in four consecutive annual Avon Walks. The camaraderie of the thousands of participants, survivors and advocates, and the vast extent of the effort, drove home to Arlene the scope and breadth of the disease and the impact it has, exponentially, on so many millions of families. After the fourth year of participating in the Walk, Arlene “wanted to look at it from a different perspective,” so she volunteered to participate in what truly is the major effort involved in providing food service to the thousands of walkers – three full meals each day. Thousands and thousands of walkers, thousands and thousands of meals to set up, serve, and breakdown, a mammoth and massive effort involving major coordination and synchronicity. For three consecutive years, Arlene was out there, rain or shine, lending her uniquely buoyant spirit and personality to the vast effort, until, ironically, she was diagnosed, in 2006, with breast cancer herself!
She had to endure the identical ritual of diagnosis, treatment that included the radiation and surgery so many millions of people have undergone. Nothing could have brought the message home more clearly for Arlene, who was already committed to the cause. Fortunately for Arlene, she was very aware of the need for annual mammograms, and able to obtain them. Therefore, she had the good fortune to be diagnosed at an early stage, with “non-invasive” breast cancer which was caught early and treated immediately and successfully. Her own bout with breast cancer and all of its attendant diagnostics and treatment, only served to further Arlene Palmer’s commitment to the cause. To date, she has raised in excess of $80,000 and has touched so very many lives a testament to her outward focus, perpetual good humor and enormous personal charisma.