On her first day back to work after a long hiatus, Danielle Parady received a police escort and a standing ovation by her colleagues when she pulled up to the front door.
She isn’t the queen, but Parady is considered royalty by her co-workers at the Naugatuck Police Department. Parady, a 41-year-old veteran officer, had been out of work for more than a year as she courageously battled debilitating cancer that spread through her body and brain.
What has gotten her through chemotherapy and other treatments is her love for her family, especially her 13-year-old daughter, Taya, and her passion for, and dedication to, police work. From day one, Parady kept saying she would be back. Many wanted to believe her, but knew her condition could make that near impossible.
“To see her back is amazing,” said Lt. Bryan Cammarata, Parady’s direct supervisor and the official department spokesman. “She is an inspiration to all of us. I knew it was going to be tough for her to come back, but I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard she was. From day one, she has had a phenomenal attitude about this and vowed to come back.”
Before her diagnosis, Parady was a beat patrol officer. She also helped in numerous detective operations where the presence of a female was necessary. Her outstanding police work earned her the police officer of the year award from the Naugatuck Exchange Club in 2010.
Her current duties are not the same. Parady is still battling cancer and is still going through intense treatment. Therefore, she cannot perform to the level where she once did. Her duties now consist of paperwork and desk work, such as logging evidence and filing police reports. It is important work, but it’s not what Parady loves: she wants to be protecting people and catching the bad guy.
“My next goal is to get back onto the road,” she said.
Anyone who knows Danielle Parady knows she is more likely than not to get to that point.
On Aug. 23, 2011, the then 40-year-old single mother who had never been sick before was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, inside melanoma, after tests revealed unknown growths on her chest and her brain.
At the time, Parady says, doctors estimated she had “maximum four months to live.”
About 17 months later, Parady is still fighting. Although she is able to perform her daily tasks at a high level, she is not out of the woods. Parady says she is still undergoing treatment and that the cancer is still inside her.
“I’m still undergoing different chemos, trial stuff. They are not sure where it’s going to lead,” she said. “They are just amazed I’m still alive.”
Parady says that since her diagnosis, her colleagues and the community at large have been tremendously supportive. There have been pasta dinners in her honor and other events to honor her and help raise money for her family.
“People have been wonderful,” she said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
And one day in the not-so-distant future, Parady plans to thank everybody personally when she sees them throughout town when she’s back on patrol duty.