Pink Warrior: Gayle Palmer
Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography by Jonathan Thorpe
Special thanks to Bowlero Arlington
While Gayle Palmer may not be in remission and still hasn’t heard the words that she is cancer-free, she is staying positive that she’s won this round of the battle. She’s thriving in the face of the challenge.
“I tolerated all treatments well and I won’t see the doctor until November,” says Palmer, who was first diagnosed with HR2 negative breast cancer in 2013 and then again in 2022. “A clear sign that there might be something wrong is that you may be slow to bounce back after chemo, which requires six weeks of recovery and radiation, [which] typically [needs] three weeks of recovery. If you feel energetic, you are keeping your routines and sleeping and eating well, they consider that a good sign that the treatments were successful. So, I’d say I am in very good shape. I feel almost 100 percent. I’m taking a chemo pill, which is an anti-estrogen pill daily, and will for at least seven years. This is great progress, and I’m thankful that I’m done.”
"I notice everything a little differently. Sometimes, my head actually spins in amazement. All the kind words that people have spoken to me, the support of my wonderful friends, my doting family and a loving husband—they all make me feel safe. Cancer is wicked, but I’m lucky right now. I’m very grateful.”
Naturally, being in this place—and standing in it for the second time—has affected Palmer’s outlook on life. “I’ve been reflective and a bit emotional,” she says. “My world has grown by leaps and bounds since my last ‘dance’ with cancer. So many new grandchildren—five added, so I now have 10! I think about my family constantly. I can’t believe all the wonderful things that surround me. I notice everything a little differently. Sometimes, my head actually spins in amazement. All the kind words that people have spoken to me, the support of my wonderful friends, my doting family and a loving husband—they all make me feel safe. Cancer is wicked, but I’m lucky right now. I’m very grateful.”
Palmer and her husband moved to Old Town in 2019, when she also became part of the Boxwood Old Town family. Having met Martha Carucci from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Palmer got an appointment with a doctor within a week of finding a lump in her breasts. When cancer was confirmed in October of 2022, Palmer was naturally shocked. Her first bout with cancer resulted in a mastectomy, so the diagnosis was unexpected. Once again, she was faced with chemo—this time, with the addition of radiation. By June of 2023, she had completed both.
“I am so thankful for these new pills they have me on,” Palmer says. “They almost make me feel normal again, plus my hair is coming back!"
"I knew that chemo and radiation would not kill me. They were simply going to slow me down... God dragged me to the finish line."
“When I received my diagnosis, I knew that chemo and radiation would not kill me,” she goes on. “They were simply going to slow me down. This time, I knew what to do: good food, sleep, water, family and friends. And God dragged me through the finish line. My husband and my children were my cheerleaders, and my ten grandchildren inspired me, as well. There are so many things left to do with my family, and that was a huge incentive. Knowing you have battled cancer several times gives you [a] different perspective. I’m not as rushed, and I don’t get as anxious as I had been in the past. I’m not unrealistic that this may pop up again, but I am so thankful that I live now and not 20 years ago. Medicine is getting better, and physicians have so many new treatments options to tailor to different cancer needs. It is so important to be your own advocate for your health. Mammograms are critical, and we must step forward together to be good to ourselves. We deserve it!”