A Paso Robles teen is home recovering after surgery last week to remove tumors associated with a rare and extremely aggressive form of ovarian cancer.
Since she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer last week, 18-year-old Paso Robles High School grad Riley Benado has received an outpouring of support from the community, including more than $32,000 donated to cover medical expenses on a gofundme.com page in her name.
Benado graduated from Paso Robles High in June where she was a most recently a varsity cheerleading captain. Since news of her diagnosis, members of Paso Robles Youth Football and Cheer, where she has volunteered for three years, hung “Rally 4 Riley” banners and will be selling T-shirts at a fundraising booth at upcoming Paso Robles High School football games, said organization president Carie Taylor.
San Luis Obispo High School Tigers Cheerleading gave a shout-out to their North County neighbor as well, pledging their support in a video posted to its Facebook page.
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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
Benado has chronicled her experience in her blog, “How Teal Became my Favorite Color.”
In her posts, Benado said she went to a gynecologist on Sept. 14 for severe bloating and pain in her pelvis.
Doctors conducted an ultrasound and found extra fluid in her stomach, and days later a CAT scan of her ovaries and appendix revealed a 98 percent chance of ovarian cancer, according to her blog.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Benado wrote.
On Sept. 23, she was officially diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer, and surgery to remove tumors was scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26. She expected all her infected organs, including her ovaries, eggs and uterus, to be removed.
“At this age, removal of these parts of my body is not only scary, but it’s heartbreaking,” she wrote. “I love kids so much, so to know I will never have a child with my own genes and my own characteristics breaks me down.”
But following the surgery, her family posted good news: Her surgery was thought to be a success and doctors were able to save her uterus and one of her ovaries.
“We all broke down crying — it’s a miracle!” wrote Benado’s sister.
Riley Benado's appendix was also removed in the surgery.
However, doctors reportedly told the family they were “completely baffled” by the type of ovarian tumors she had. Cells from the tumors were sent to the University of California San Francisco for testing, which the family said could take about two weeks.
The family wrote that Benado was doing well following the surgery and was expected to return home shortly.
“Oftentimes we associate the idea of cancer with death,” the blog reads. “But I am happy to report our Riley is not going anywhere ANYTIME soon!!!”
Attempts to reach the family have been unsuccessful.
An earlier version of this story misstated the results of 18-year-old Riley Benado’s cancer surgery. Doctors removed one ovary during the procedure.