HURLEY — As the members of Hurley’s class of 2003 gathered for their 10-year reunion last Saturday, they began the festivities by remembering a classmate battling cancer.
Several members of the class of 2003, as well as other friends and members of the community, participated in a “Run for a Reason 5K” fundraiser for Alyssa Paro. The morning race began and ended at Riccelli Park.
Paro was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer, Paget’s disease, at age 27 in late November, followed by a bilateral mastectomy and removal of lymph nodes, along with chemotherapy. This type of cancer usually affects women over 50, and accounts for only 2 to 4 percent of breast cancer occurrences, according to her website, Viva La Cure.
Paro lives in Jeffersonville, Ind. “I can’t believe how much help there is for my family and me back home,” she said. “You can’t get that in a big city. It makes me want to move home in an instant.”
The race went very well, said Paro. Kieran O’Brien headed up the event.
Paro has finished chemotherapy, and she is feeling much better now that this segment of her journey has finished. “I have all my energy now,” Paro said.
Paro responded to this medical crisis in a 21st century way: She began Viva La Cure, a website where she blogs, posts YouTube videos, hosts a forum, and reaches out to others to educate them about breast cancer and support those going through cancer.
“My main goal in life is to keep this (Viva La Cure) going and to eventually turn it into a nonprofit for other people going through breast cancer,” Paro said. “There is so much out there, but you have to put so much energy into finding and executing it all.”
Paro continued, “I’d love to make this a place where families and people going through this illness can feel ‘together’ with this new community. Even when there are so many people willing to help, sometimes we still feel alone. It’s so important to vent and to get it out. I have big plans for the site and can’t wait to get started.
“Even if you have insurance, it is extremely draining on your bank account for the rest of your life. It would be so nice to keep the site going so we can help out other families the way my community helped ours out,” Paro added.