Hundreds Attend Benefit for Woman with Rare Cancer

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Hundreds came out to support a young woman from Luzerne County who is battling a rare form of cancer.

Last February, Alyssa O'Boyle was diagnosed with ameloblastic carcinoma, a rare type of jaw cancer. She says only 11 other people on earth have the same form of cancer.

Her doctors say it will be four more years until she's out of the woods.

On Sunday, more than 300 people came out to show her she's not alone in her battle against the disease.

It was standing room only inside Rodano's restaurant on Wilkes-Barre's Public Square.

A line stretched out the door, and windows were lined with dozens of raffle baskets. It was all to help Alyssa in her fight.

This time last year, Alyssa says she went for a CT scan after a minor work injury. She never expected doctors to find a tumor inside her face pushing her wisdom teeth into her sinus cavity.

"There are 12 cases in the world including me, and they don't know too much about it because it's so rare, so they are putting me in a medical journal. I donated cells to science to we can learn about it," she explained.

Alyssa and her family say hearing the news from the doctors was incredibly overwhelming.

"With it being so rare there's a lot of questions. There's a lot of unanswered questions that we had to wait for, but we got the answers we needed, and we're very confident," said Stacy Tripp, Alyssa's mother.

Since the diagnosis, Alyssa has had three surgeries totaling more than 20 hours on the operating table. She spent six weeks traveling every day to Philadelphia for radiation treatment and had facial reconstructive surgery.

Tripp tells Newswatch 16 the money raised at Rodano's will help pay for traveling expenses and Alyssa's medical bills.

"They definitely are a lot higher than most," said Tripp. "I believe that we will have enough money to take a big chunk off the top"

Alyssa says her life since the diagnosis has been tough, but seeing the restaurant packed with people who support her is inspiring.

"I felt so negatively about myself, so I thought everybody else thought the same thing. But seeing all of this is absolutely incredible, and I feel so loved, and it's just the most exciting feeling."

Alyssa says she had her last surgery in April, and so far, she has been tumor free, but her doctors tell her she has to be tumor free for four more years before they can say she is in remission. In the meantime, she wants to go back to school in the fall and study to become a nurse.

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