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Perryville Prison Breast Cancer Walk

Sometimes, the people who have the least give the most.

Last October, for the second year in a row, the inmates of the Arizona State Prison Complex – Perryville organized their own on-site breast cancer walk. The event raised more than $9,500 from women in four separate units of the prison for the Phoenix Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

On Oct. 27, 2012, about 1,200 prisoners gathered in the yard of the all-women’s complex in Goodyear to greet Sharon Carlson, a Komen Phoenix Community Outreach Ambassador and breast cancer survivor. Each woman had paid $1 to participate. They wore handmade paper pink ribbons and had decorated the ground with pink chalk.  They gave Sharon her own crocheted ribbon. And they walked.

Despite it being a warm October afternoon, they walked laps around the prison yard for more than three hours. Sharon walked with them, trying to answer questions and share breast health information with as many women as possible.  

“There were six or seven women going through breast cancer treatment themselves, so I made a special effort to connect with them,” says Sharon. “I wanted to offer support and help prepare them for their next steps.”

She also brought educational materials about breast cancer. “When I put the materials down, it was like candy. They were so excited. They’re just hungry to know what’s happening.” The following day, Sharon met with about 40 additional women in the prison’s high-security unit.

After the walk, the inmates presented Sharon with a box of hand-knit chemo caps they had made.

“I can’t tell you the emotions I felt. They were just so happy to do something for us,” says Sharon. “These women worked so hard to participate in this event and their stories were at the same time heartwarming and heart wrenching.”