Riley Benado, an 18-year-old varsity cheerleader from Paso Robles, California was feeling bloated and uncomfortable. She headed to the doctor. Initially, she was thought to be five months pregnant even though she's never had sex. After more than a week of unknowns and testing, she was finally diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She almost had to have a full hysterectomy (they were able to save part of her reproductive organs after all) and now her family has started a Go Fund Me site to raise money to help with her treatment.
So far, it seems like Riley is strong and hopefully going to recover. They were even able to save one of her ovaries and her uterus should she want to have biological children in the future. But they are still waiting on answers and the kind of cancer she has is very, very rare. "Rare" is always a scary term in the medical industry.
Even so, the uncomfortable truth about Riley's story is that cancer doesn't discriminate. It can strike you when you are 89 or when you are 18 and women need to be realistic about their odds as well as the odds of their friends and loved ones. We rely on doctors to help us, but we also need to rely on one another. These kinds of stories serve to remind us that we are not necessarily immune to things because we are "too young" or it is rare.
Benado's story is scary, but she is not the first young girl to have this experience and she will, sadly, not be the last either. Our thoughts and prayers are with her as she fights this disease and she does have the help of a healthy lifestyle and youth in getting through this. Even so, it is a sobering reality that no one is truly safe from this devastating disease. All we can really do is know all the facts, understand our risks, and advocate for ourselves with medical professionals. Let's hope the 10 days it took to diagnose Riley didn't hurt her chances.
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