Pennsylvania grandmother Mary Clancey thought she was just gaining weight when her abdomen began growing.
"I noticed I was getting a little plump," she said.
But as her stomach got bigger and bigger, Clancey became sicker. "Things started getting harder do – harder to walk, harder to stand, and then one day I couldn’t get out of bed," the 71-year-old said.
"My son said, 'Let’s call an ambulance and take you out of here,'" she recalled.
One doctor had previously told her she was merely gaining weight because she was sampling too much product at her job as a fudge maker.
"The mass was so big it didn’t even fit in the... scanner. I had never seen anything like it," said Dr. Richard Boulay, the hospital’s chief of gynecologic oncology.
An extra operating table was needed to support the massive growth.
Boulay told Clancey, "I think you’ve got quadruplets in there,” she recalled.
An ovarian cyst was the root of her tumor, and had evolved, over 15 to 16 years, into a growth that accounted for nearly half of her body weight. It was diagnosed as Stage 1 cancer.
Boulay and a team of plastic surgeons were able to excise the tumor without rupturing it, removing a total of 180 pounds of tissue and growth. They cut out expanses of stretched skin, restitching a new body for her.
She was in the hospital for 26 days, recovering from an incredibly invasive procedure that has left her looking downright svelte. Surgeons say her prognosis is good.
“Well, hey, I was gonna be a short, fat, round, little old fat lady before, so you never know, I might just turn into a voluptuous babe," she said.
Her chief surgeon is pretty pleased, too.
"When someone like Mary grabs your hands a couple of days later and says, 'Thank you for giving me my life back,' it just doesn’t get any better than that," an emotional Boulay said.