Doctors told Kevin Daly that his protruding gut was just part of getting older. Turns out it was a 30-pound tumour, years in the making.
Daly, a 63-year-old estate planner from Hoboken, New Jersey, had been working hard for nearly two years to lose weight, but despite the number on the scale going down, his belly wouldn’t shrink. For months, doctors told Daly it was nothing to worry about – likely just visceral fat that comes with age. It was only after months of persistence from Daly that doctors performed a CAT scan and told him he had liposarcoma, a cancer that develops in the fat cells of soft tissue.
Within days, Dr Julio Teixeria of Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan had Daly on the operating table.
“I have removed tumours that are large in size,” Teixeria told MensHealth.com, “but in my 30 years of experience, this was the biggest I have ever seen.”
The belly that wouldn’t go away
Daly’s story began back in 2015, after he had open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve that had calcified. After the surgery, he noticed his gut was sticking out more than he recalled.
His doctor explained that it was probably more noticeable because his shoulder and chest muscles had atrophied post-surgery. “The doctor suggested that I try and lose some weight to make it easier on my heart and new valves,” Daly said. “Since I was upset about the belly, I thought, yeah, I’ll do that.”
At the time, Daly weighed 232 pounds. He worked relentlessly for the next year-and-a-half, finally getting down to 198 pounds. In October of 2017, Daly went in for a check-up.
“My doctor was ecstatic that I had lost 34 pounds,” Daly said. “He told me my heart and valves sound like a 20-year-old. Then I said, ‘Great, I’m thrilled, but how is it possible that I haven’t lost an ounce of my stomach?’ He agreed it was strange, re-examined me, and said we should get a CAT scan.”
The extremely large mass
Daly got the scan in mid-December. Four hours later, his doctor called and said he had an ‘extremely large mass,’ and that he needed to see a surgeon. The mass, initially estimated to be at least 12 pounds, had completely displaced his organs. Daly felt a brief sense of vindication, then panic.
Teixeria and Daly met soon after, and scheduled surgery for December 28. “The fact that the tumour had grown to this size was a great concern,” Teixeira said. “We had to have the discussion that this likely wasn’t a benign tumour.”
When Teixeria opened up Daly, he discovered the mass had completely enveloped a kidney and ureter. After consulting with Daly’s wife mid-surgery, he removed both, then continued removing the mass.
“It was difficult to get a good idea of the size until the tumour was completely removed,” Teixeria said. “The size and weight of this thing, it was hard to wrap my head around it.”
Other than removing the kidney and ureter, the surgery went without a hitch.
Daly says he hopes his experience will be a lesson to others, “You have to advocate for yourself, and know and pay attention to your own body,” he said.
“If your instincts are telling you something, push for it, because they’re usually right,” Teixeria added. “Get a second opinion. Insist on imaging.”
Daly is feeling great these days, working with a physical therapist to get his strength back.
“I feel healthier, stronger, and happier than ever,” he said. “I didn’t think at 63 years old I had a chance at feeling like this again.”
Source: Men’s Health