Community rallies behind teen diagnosed with ovarian cancer
– Riley Benado, an 18-year-old graduate of Paso Robles High School, was recently diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. The former varsity cheer captain and current Cuesta student went in for surgery on Sept. 26. She and her family have been sharing her journey and posting updates on her blog.
On one of the most recent posts, her family explains that during surgery, her doctor was able to save one of her ovaries and uterus, for now. “We all broke down crying – it’s a miracle!” reads her blog.
But there was both good and bad news following the surgery. “The bad news is the doctor said both her and the pathologist on site, after studying all of this for so many years, are actually completely baffled by the type of ovarian tumors she has. She said it is so, so rare that they could not determine any answers immediately. Her entire abdomen was infected with small tumors that had spread beyond her ovaries. Surgery went over time as Dr. O’Hanlan was able to safely remove every. single. one. We are happy to report Riley is completely clear of these crazy tumors and all of the fluid in her body! But we aren’t out of the woods yet….”
Right now the family is waiting for tests to come back from UCSF. “She cannot yet determine the outlook or possibilities of chemotherapy, or if the tumors will be coming back until they have each been tested. But as of now Riley should be making a speedier recovery than we could have imagined!!!! (She may be coming home tomorrow!!!) Thank you, thank you all! We really believe it was due to all of your positivity coming her way that created this small miracle (for now!) for Riley.”
Over the last week, the North County community has bound together to show support of this young woman in a variety of ways.
Young cheerleaders with Paso Robles Youth Football & Cheer, where Benado volunteers her time teaching, created a banner to show their support. The cheer squad at San Luis Obispo High School also posted a video to their Facebook account pledging their support to their North County neighbor.
Sending our love to Riley! Riley was a cheerleader at Paso High and just graduated in June, she was heading to San Jose State to cheer there as well. Last week she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer! This is heartbreaking, no one should have to go through this especially an 18 year old! Be strong, fight hard- we RALLY for Riley!! We love you Riley!! #rallyforriley #ourfavoritecoloristeal https://www.gofundme.com/rallyforriley
Posted by SLO High School Tigers Cheerleading on Saturday, September 26, 2015
Local businesses have stepped up as well. Get Away R.V. donated an R.V. for the family to use to travel to the hospital where she underwent surgery, and the local GMC dealership donated a truck to tow it, thanks to the help of Riley’s boyfriend’s father, who works there. At the recent Paso Robles High School homecoming game, T-shirts were sold to help raise money for the family. Local company PhotoStop would not accept money for the shirts they printed.
Benado’s story has even traveled overseas to Afghanistan. Brittany Amber Calvetti, a member of the US Air Force, posted the following:
My good friends’ younger sister, Riley Benado, earlier this week was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. She’s young & beautiful with an amazing spirit! Her smile can light up any room! Well Riley here in Afghanistan we wanted to let you know you have so much support & positive vibes/prayers sent your way! The sign says it’s from just one section, when in fact pictured is the entire ELR Squadron! We wanted to let you know that with everything going on out here, you are on so many people’s thoughts, you’re not alone & you never will be. This is a battle with a whole crew behind you! Don’t be afraid because you got this! So many people believe in you, people you don’t even know care for you! Stay the shining star that you are! This sign is signed by most of my squadron & will be taking pictures in a few more places & then is being sent back to you! With as much love as I can give <3Vetti
Benado responded, ” I’m so blown away, I don’t even know what to say…The bravest men and women in the world that have been putting their lives on the line to protect our country are showing me their fighting with me too. I promise I’ll stay brave <3. Bless our Troops.”
As of today, Benado’s GoFunMe account has raised $28,375, which is still more than $70,000 shy of the $100,000 fundraising goal. To make a donation, click here.