Gaining a few pounds here or there is normal, but a Chicago woman was shocked to find out her unexplained weight gain was actually the result of a 20-pound tumor that had been growing in her abdomen.
Kim Turner, 59, said it all started three years ago when she noticed her midsection quickly expanding.
“I wasn't eating anything," Turner told InsideEdition.com. "My appetite was as little as half a sandwich and I was full."
Despite going on diets and exercising more, she quickly grew from a size 12 to a size 18.
Her stomach became so large that she was unable to bend over or tie her shoes.
"That was frustrating, because I was trying to lose weight and I wasn’t," Turner said. "Why am I not losing weight? I’m not eating anything, but not losing weight. It was very frustrating."
She went from doctor to doctor, who suggested constipation pills to ease the discomfort, but she didn’t get a concrete answer until a consultation with Dr. Ajay Maker, a surgical oncologist at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
Maker discovered that what Turner had believed was fat was actually a retroperitoneal liposarcoma, a rare type of tumor that begins as fatty tissue and that can rapidly grow and become cancerous.
"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.
When Turner discovered the results, she was shocked.
"I was told at first it was about the size of two softballs, and I said, 'What?'" she recalled. "Well, it ended up being much larger than that."
Turns out, her tumor weighed 20 pounds, and measured up to several dozen inches at its widest point. Surgical assistants had to pop out to their local hardware store to find a tub to transport the tumor from operating room for further testing.
Turner said she was nervous leading up to the surgery, but was relieved that doctors were able to remove the tumor.
"I feel a thousand times better," she said. "Weight-wise, I feel a lot lighter. I actually find now I am able to do some things I wasn’t, that were harder to do before."
Doctors discovered shortly after the surgery that the tumor was cancerous, and Turner will find out later this month whether she will need to take any further steps for treatment.
For now, Turner is enjoying her good health, and fits into size 10 jeans.