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Newport Harbor High student recovering from brain tumor

The family of Shelby Benjamin, 17, is seeking support from the community. Two restaurant fundraisers are planned.

August 17, 2012|By Britney Barnes
  • Shelby Benjamin.
Shelby Benjamin. (Courtesy Jenna…)

The family of a Newport Harbor High School student who is struggling to recover from a brain tumor is looking for community support.

Shelby Benjamin should be getting excited to start her senior year, but instead she is fighting to recover from her second surgery to remove the tumor.

The 17-year-old was released from the hospital Wednesday and isn't out of the woods yet, her family said.

"I would appreciate any support from the community — any support or prayers would be huge at a time like this to get her back to the awesome, fun-loving girl she is," said Chadd Benjamin, Shelby's 22-year-old brother.

Just days into summer break, Shelby's optometrist spotted a problem during a routine eye exam, said Veronica Ashworth, Chadd Benjamin's fiancé.

She was diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma.

Shelby has since gone through two surgeries. The first left her with severe pain, a fever, swollen neck and didn't remove all of the tumor. Now, after the second, she is tumor-free but still under a nurse's care, Ashworth said.

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"It's been crazy," Chadd Benjamin said. "It's really hard because I'm used to always protecting my little sister and, with something like this, there is really nothing I can do to protect her."

The situation has been a financial burden for Shelby's single mother, Ashworth said.

"It's been really difficult," Chadd Benjamin said. "She hasn't been able to work at all. She's been at the hospital every single day and sleeping there."

Benjamin and his fiancé have taken over the communication of Shelby's progress for her mother. They started a Facebook page, "PRAY for Shelby Benjamin," set up a Wells Fargo bank account, No. 6888767701, in Shelby's name and organized several fundraisers.

"The need is great," Ashworth said. "There was zero income coming in."

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

If You Go

The family is hosting two restaurant fundraisers for Shelby Benjamin:

• Chili's, 26782 Portola Pkwy., Foothill Ranch, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday: The family will be handing out fliers at the restaurant, which can also be found at the PRAY for Shelby Benjamin Facebook page.

• Panera Bread, 235 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa: All day Monday. No flier needed.

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