California Teen Goes Public With Her Fight Against Ovarian Cancer

| by Jared Keever
Riley Benado.Riley Benado.

An 18-year-old high school graduate from California has taken her battle with ovarian cancer public. 

Riley Benado, who graduated from Paso Robles High School last year and just started classes at Cuesta College was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer Sept. 23, the Paso Robles Daily News reports. 

After the receiving the news, Riley started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with the cost of surgery and other treatments. It is on that page that she tells her story. 

“On Monday September 14, 2015 I went to the gynecologist for a check up because I was experiencing severe bloating and pain in my pelvis,” she writes. “It looked like my stomach was 5 months pregnant. The doctors gave me a pregnancy test, and of course it was negative — I'm experiencing all of this, yet I'm still a virgin.”

After an ultrasound and CAT scan of her pelvis, Riley returned to her gynecologist. 

“She explained I have an 11 by 13 centimeter mass on ‘one' ovary (so large it affected both sides), extra fluid in my stomach, and enlarged lymph nodes — all indications of ovarian cancer. I couldn't believe what I was hearing,” she writes.  “A few days later, my blood was sent to the lab to do some testing before I was called by an OB/GYN Oncology specialist in the Stanford area. Her name is Dr. O’Hanlan.”

“On September 23rd, I was officially diagnosed with stage 3 Ovarian cancer,” she continues. “I am scheduled for surgery for September 26th. During the surgery, the mass, any and all infected organs, my ovaries, eggs, and my uterus will be removed. She will perform a full hysterectomy.”

Prior to the surgery date, the teen writes she “was appreciating every second of the love and support I receive from friends, family, and my community.”

“I hope my journey inspires others and helps anyone going through similar challenges to understand that they, too, can overcome a difficult battle,” she concludes her story. “Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, and contribution to this fight. Together, I believe we can beat this!”

The page has been shared more than 5,000 times and raised over $27,000. 

Riley’s parents posted an update to her personal blog on Sept. 27, saying Riley had come through surgery. O’Hanlon was able to save the teen’s uterus and one of her ovaries, they said but Riley appeared to have a baffling form of cancer and had not just one large tumor but many small tumors as well. While all the tumors were able to be removed they were being sent for further testing. 

“She cannot yet determine the outlook or possibilities of chemotherapy, or if the tumors will be coming back until they have each been tested,” her parents write, referring to O’Hanlon. “But as of now Riley should be making a speedier recovery than we could have imagined!!!!”

Sources: Paso Robles Daily News, GoFundMe: RallyforRiley, How Teal Became My Favorite Color (Riley's Blog) / Photo credit: Courtesy Benado family via Paso Robles Daily News