Palmer’s niece Anne Buttafuoco did her part by selling T-shirts during the fundraiser.
But she admitted that her first reoccurrence of cancer came as a blow. “I felt like someone punched all the air out of my chest,” she said.
Though she and Hindenburg never discuss prognosis, she said she couldn’t help but ask, “How long can I live like this?” to which he responded, “Many years.” From that day forward, his words became an oft-repeated mantra for Palmer.
“She doesn’t let things get in her way,” Hindenburg said. “She controls the disease. She reassesses the situation and goes forward with it with a great attitude.”
‘Like Superwoman to us’
“Because of her strength, she never gets down or defeated,” said George, an X-ray technician at South Nassau Communities Hospital and a survivor of prostate cancer. “No obstacle stands in her way. She’s like Superwoman to us.”
May 30 was an emotional day for the Palmer family, as hundreds filed into the Westbury banquet hall. After months of organization, led by George, Buttafuoco and friends Phyllis Chiarelli, Gail Pascale, Liz Gaynor and Wally Kakareko, Palmer’s dream to fundraise was finally becoming a reality. “She’s the most giving person I know,” said Chiarelli, a friend of Palmer’s for more than 20 years. “She gets life. She knows what’s important.”
Palmer said she chose Adelphi as her benefactor because of its local roots, and because the services it provides for women with breast cancer are free of charge. “It’s important to me that I have this,” she said of her family and friends. “And for some of these other women [with breast cancer], maybe they can get some of this out of Adelphi.”
Attendees traveled from as far away as Texas to show their support. “Living with cancer, it’s not easy to do,” Palmer said. “And certainly the people in my life have made it much easier for me to carry on, and maybe it’s one of the reasons why I’m so positive and strong. It’s all this love around you.”
Indeed, the house was packed at Verdi’s and the event had a celebratory feel, with guest walking up to Buttafuoco, who was manning the check-in booth, and saying proudly, “We’re here for Ellen.”