When Pennyfield Avenue resident Elisa Albano was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January of 1989, doctors didn’t expect her to live for more than one year.
But on Wednesday, October 6, Albano turned 50. In the week leading up to this milestone, friends and family arranged a major celebration for the New York Mets diehard fan, including a trip to Shea Stadium during which Albano felt like a true guest of honor.
On Tuesday, September 28 Albano’s sister Roseann Fiumara and her friend Lisa Hession brought Albano to the new Citi Field — her first Mets game in 10 years — to see her team take on the Milwaukee Brewers. The Mets won 4-3, but the big excitement came before the game, when Albano went out onto the field and met several players, including 3rd base hearthtrob David Wright.
Albano’s cousin Augie Vitiello, a restauranteur and former owner of Augie’s Restaurant in Larchmont, NY, arranged the entire outing. By the end of the game, Albano was overwhelmed.
But her fun had only just begun. That weekend, on Saturday, October 2, more than 100 of her friends and family gathered at the Knights of Columbus on Ampere Avenue to celebrate her birthday. Some guests drove down from as far as Saratoga, and others made the trip from Boston to attend the Mets-themed bash.
The party was also a chance to honor Albano’s 21 years of survival. After numerous surgeries, she has been cancer-free for 15 years, but the medical ordeal left her unable to use her left side. She requires 24-hour care and experiences memory loss and vision problems. She is now wheelchair-bound, so making it to the Mets game was a big undertaking.
“Elisa has proven that will, determination and a loving and caring family, and strong faith in God can work wonders and help overcome any grim diagnosis,” said Hession about her friend.
Hession said that friends and family are proud of Albano, but still recall the old days with sadness.
“She went from being a totally physically active person, who played every kind of sport, to now spending her days in a wheelchair. Her constants and loves in all these years since her illness have been her family and friends, her religious beliefs, the New York Mets and Gary Carter.”
Carter, remembered by many as “Kid,” was a three-time Gold Glove winner that played catcher for the Mets from 1985-89. He is Albano’s very favorite Mets player, and as her party came to a close, guess who called her up on the phone with some birthday wishes.
After Carter’s call, which Hession had organized and Albano was thrilled to receive, Roseann Fiumara made a speech to everyone present.
“Elisa has encouraged me since the first day of her illness,” she said. “Even when I was at my lowest point... she brought my spirits up.”
Fiumara continued her emotional words, sharing with partygoers that her sister, “keeps saying I am her angel, but I feel she is my rock.”
It’s all thanks to the inspiration Albano brings to those that support her.
“Now I realize,” Fiumara added, “how truly precious life is.”
©2010 Community News Group