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HCRN Remembers Alesha Arnold, RN: A dedicated board member committed to finding a cure

Alesha Arnold, RN - New Board Member

It is with heavy hearts we share the passing of Hoosier Cancer Research Network Board Member Alesha Arnold, RN.

Alesha was a breast oncology research nurse at the IU School of Medicine and supported the Clinical Trials Office at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Alesha worked with Clarian Health from 1997 to 2003 and served as a Clinical Research Nurse in gynecological cancer and breast cancer from 2008 to 2023. Alesha was also a patient at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center from 2019 to 2023.

Alesha was elected to the HCRN Board of Directors in 2021. She brought a wealth of clinical research experience, having interacted directly with patients about the objectives of cancer studies.

“She brought an invaluable perspective to the board from being a health care provider, a nurse, a patient, and someone who dedicated herself to the health care profession for more than 20 years,” said Chris Fausel, PharmD, MHA, BCOP, Chairman of the Board of Directors. 

Alesha was passionate about the goals of advancing cancer research, education, and patient advocacy. Alesha placed a high importance on building trust when it came to working with patients participating in clinical trials.

“She was a dedicated board member and committed to finding a cure,” said Pam Griffin, Executive Assistant at Hoosier Cancer Research Network. “She was gracious, compassionate, and always had a listening ear.”

Anita Rush-Taylor, BSN, RN, and current HCRN Clinical Data Validator worked with Alesha at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. At the time, Alesha was a gynecological cancer research nurse expecting her second baby, and Anita was a breast cancer research nurse who was cross training to fill in for her maternity leave coverage.

It was quickly apparent how much she loved her position and how her patients appreciated her care,” says Anita Rush-Taylor. “Alesha is the person who was willing to share her expertise, making it easier to step into her shoes but knowing that I couldn’t fill them nearly as well as she did.”

Anita Rush-Taylor remembers Alesha for her engaging personality and how she was always left with a smile after every interaction. “Our research nurse village was better because of her presence.”

In July 2019, Alesha was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and was one of the more than 236,000 people diagnosed annually. Soon after diagnoses, Alesha courageously set out to turn the tide against the community’s perception that all individuals living with lung cancer were responsible for their disease. Alesha took her commitment to the next level as a lung cancer patient advocate.

Alesha became an advocate working with the White Ribbon Project and End Lung Cancer Now (ELCN). Key to her platform is eliminating tobacco use in Indiana, making screening available to all eligible patients, and increasing participation in lung cancer research.

While working with both organizations, she used her testimony of love and the importance of lung cancer awareness while continuously promoting the message that anyone with lungs could receive the diagnoses of lung cancer. For her devotion to her work in patient education and advocacy she was recognized by Cure Magazine as a 2022 Lung Cancer Hero during the International Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2022 North American Conference on Lung Cancer.

Alesha was convinced that her diagnosis made her a better nurse, one who was able to comprehends a patient’s anxieties about scans, fear of statistics, need for empathy, and resentment of stereotypes. She recognized the importance of clinical trial participation and valued those findings that gave her time with all those she loved. Anita remembers talking to Alesha about the how her first treatment was the result of earlier clinical trials findings.

As a positive, energetic, and goal-oriented individual, Alesha often said she found strength through her deep faith in God and the support of family, friends, and colleagues.

“She lit up when speaking of her family and patients, she was passionate, kind, and caring,” says Anita Rush-Taylor. “Her legacy lives on in all facets of her life as family, friend, and professionals.”

Alesha’s passion for her work will continue to be an inspiration to our network as we work to advance cancer research, education, and patient advocacy. Our condolences go out to her family, friends, and everyone in the cancer space whose life she touched. 

Alesha’s obituary, information about a livestream of the services, and other details are available online.

Alesha’s family has provided three options for memorial giving:

About Hoosier Cancer Research Network:

Hoosier Cancer Research Network conducts innovative cancer research in collaboration with academic and community physicians and scientists across the United States. The organization provides comprehensive clinical trial management and support, from conception through publication. Created in 1984 as a program of the Walther Cancer Institute, Hoosier Cancer Research Network became an independent nonprofit clinical research organization in 2007. Since its founding, Hoosier Cancer Research Network has conducted more than 230 trials in a variety of cancer types and supportive care, resulting in more than 350 publications. More than 9,000 subjects have participated in Hoosier Cancer Research Network clinical trials.