On November 30, 28-year-old Alyssa Mazurek Paro was stricken with a rare and aggressive breast cancer. After a double mastectomy, she is still fighting for her health, and her friends and family have rallied behind her for a fundraiser.She's fighting with everything she can. Alyssa, a Hurley, Wisconsin native, wife, and mother of five-year-old Liam and four-year-old Ava, has been diagnosed with Paget's Disease of the breast, a rare breast cancer seen in about four percent of women over the age of 70."I kind of laughed about it, because who gets cancer this young? So I was just blown away. It didn't set in until after I had the double mastectomy, and then I was like, wow! Here's what's happening. And then it came back that the lymph node was positive for even more cancer," said Alyssa.
Even after losing both of her breasts in December, the cancer has spread. Doctors say her high metabolism and hormones, due to her young age, have encouraged the cancer. To make matters worse, Alyssa is Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (or HER2) positive, meaning her cells multiply faster than normal which has also enouraged the spread of her cancer.
To continue the fight, Alyssa will start chemotherapy in two weeks for about four months. She says she's scared, but she's found a constructive opportunity."Since I was a photographer, the first thing I wanted to do was document my journey," Alyssa said. Alyssa has been using Youtube so that other young women can see her story and not be afraid of their own cancer. It's part of her " Viva La Cure " campaign, and her family is right alongside her. Her husband has been helping her make shirts and other merchandise to help pay bills and spread awareness."I'm just proud that she's managed to keep such a positive attitude about this and try to help out other people who may be battling the same thing," said Alyssa's 30-year-old husband, Will Paro.
In her videos, Alyssa holds nothing back. She describes detailed symptoms and her emotions the whole way through. Some of her videos are done for fun, but others are very serious. She hopes that others will be aware of the lesser known symptoms that she experienced. After she is treated and cancer-free, Alyssa plans to create a non-profit with her husband to fight cancer and spread awareness with an attitude that "cancer doesn't have to be scary."Though she now lives near Louisville, Kentucky, the Hurley community is banding together for a massive spaghetti benefit at the American Legion Hall on Saturday, February 9, to help the Paros pay their hospital bills. It will take place at 2 p.m. and will last most of the night. The food will be available from 2 to 5 p.m., but there will be many raffle items, a silent auction, and live music throughout the day, along with activities for kids.
The Hurley Area Lioness Club has played a key role in organizing everything with Alyssa's sister. The club has already donated $2,000 to the Paros."It's going to be one of the big social events of the season. It's really turning into a party more than a fundraiser," said Ricky Kelly, a Hurley Lioness and mother of one of Alyssa's best friends. Alyssa says the immense support from her friends, family, and neighbors has been nothing short of overwhelming."It's just neat that when you're from a small town, they still remember you even after you move away. They take care of you," Alyssa said. Alyssa's battle with cancer is far from over, but she says fighting is her only option."I don't have any other option. I have to be strong for my kids, and it's very important to have a positive outlook on this to get better and to show people that you can be happy through it and have comfort through cancer," Alyssa said.