Kim Turner had been gaining weight for a few years. She thought it was just her genes, but she knew something was seriously wrong when she kept gaining weight even after she had almost totally lost her appetite.
So, Turner sought medical help to figure out what was going on. After a series of tests last year at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, doctors discovered a 20-pound tumor in her midsection, according to a press release from the medical center.
Ajay Maker, director of surgical oncology at the hospital, operated for more than three hours and successfully removed the tumor last August. Because it was so huge, hospital staff had to go to a hardware store to buy a bigger container to transport the tumor for testing.
Now down three pants sizes and two shirt sizes, Turner is doing well and is complication-free, according to the press release.
“I am feeling much, much better and so much lighter,” Turner said. “I had no idea the way that I felt wasn’t normal. The red flag was that my belly kept getting bigger, even though I didn’t have an appetite. I knew then that something was wrong. If there is anything I can share with others about my experience, it’s to always follow your gut instinct.”
Turner had a retroperitoneal liposarcoma, a rare tumor that starts in fat cells and rapidly grows into “a fat cell gone wild,” Maker said, noting that Turner’s tumor may have been growing for up to a decade.
“It can often be difficult for patients or their doctors to make a diagnosis in cases like these because they are so rare, being less than 1 percent of all cancers,” Maker said. “There are roughly 13,000 new cases of sarcomas each year in the United States, with liposarcoma being just one type of over 50 different subtypes of sarcoma. There are only a handful of cases each year where a tumor gets to this point.”
Forty percent of these types of tumors come back, Maker said, but he is hopeful Turner’s will not because the surgery was such a success.