35-year-old Destrehan mom battles cancer

Best friend creates GoFundMe to help, says she ‘inspires’

Rhiannon Madere calls her best friend a true inspiration for how she’s dealt with almost unfathomable adversity recently. She just wishes she didn’t have to.

It would be a high enough hurdle for Destrehan’s Cheri Palmisano to be asked to clear if only speaking of her recent jarring diagnosis, when her doctor informed her she had Stage 2 colorectal cancer. The 35-year-old was already bearing the weight of a difficult divorce from her now ex-husband and an ensuing battle over custody of their daughter.

Making matters far worse was that Palmisano was unable to return to work shortly after her diagnosis, bringing with it a long list of financial worries and the uncertainty of when she will be able to find employment again, given her circumstances.

“She’s gone through a lot,” said Madere, who has set up a GoFundMe page to provide some aid for Palmisano. “It seems like it’s one thing after another, after another, almost like she can’t catch a break. And she is just the kindest and most caring person on the planet.”

Palmisano was diagnosed a little more than a month ago and has started a treatment plan that includes chemotherapy that doctors hope will shrink the tumor enough for her to undergo surgery to remove it. She completed her second round of chemotherapy last Thursday.

“I didn’t expect it to be cancer,” said Palmisano. “It was kind of shocking. It didn’t feel real until I had to go back and get a referral to the surgeon”

Madere, also a Destrehan resident, met Palmisano when they attended East St. John High as teens, though they weren’t as close then as they are now. Madere has a young son and Palmisano a daughter of the same age. The two also share a deep Christian faith.

“I’m a Christian and you know, I trust and put my faith in God that He has a greater plan for everything,” said Palmisano.

Madere said Palmisano’s positive attitude has shown her character.

“The way she’s keeping her spirits up, it just inspires me so much. She’s so positive and to talk to her, you wouldn’t know she’s going through everything she has been,” Madere said.

Palmisano said while she’s staying positive, it hasn’t always been easy.

“Especially with just recently starting treatment, I’m learning how my body reacts to all of it. The first weekend I was just really tired,” Palmisano said. “Rhiannon and my parents stepped up to help with my daughter.”

Palmisano’s strength has fortified Madere’s own belief that her friend will beat her illness, though she admits it wasn’t easy news to hear.

“I was upset, confused and frustrated,” Madere said. “I couldn’t understand how this could happen to someone amazing like her. She’s the most honest, genuine person I know. It’s obviously upsetting, but I know she’ll get through this.”

A testament to how beloved Palmisano is among the many who know her has been the very positive response to Madere’s GoFundMe, which earned 43 donations over its first 16 days online, raising more than $3,600. Palmisano said she was “blown away” by all the support.

“(Madere)’s always been there for me, through everything,” Palmisano said. “I was floored by what she wrote about me … I’m in complete awe … people have been sending messages, prayers. A wonderful lady at my church got together with everyone and put together a big care basket for me to help with my journey. I’m overwhelmed with love.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/fq6xz-support-for-cancer

 

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