A 20-year-old Florida woman has had an ovarian cyst the size of an exercise ball removed from her abdomen.
Allison Fisher, of Jacksonville, said the mass was so great she felt she was pregnant with 10 children and could no longer bend over or see her feet.
She regularly suffered from abdominal pain, bloating and even experienced a period that lasted an entire year. But the Florida native put off seeing doctors, fearing the cost and hoping it would just “go away.”
Her mother’s cancer diagnosis in early 2021 urged her to have growths checked, and doctors discovered she had a giant ovarian cyst that would need to be surgically removed.
It measured 20 inches by 20 inches, about the size of an exercise ball or oversized watermelon, and weighed 104 pounds, accounting for one-fifth of her body weight.
Allison Fisher, 20, of Jacksonville, Florida, had a tumor so large that he weighed 104 pounds and was about the size of an exercise ball. She is pictured above before surgery to remove the tumor
Ms Fisher said having the tumor removed ‘saved my life’ and made her feel ‘human again’.
She told the local station News4Jax“Well, for starters, I can see my feet again, and I haven’t been able to do that for years.”
“I feel so much lighter. I feel human, I can wear clothes, I can do things that normal people can do.’
Ms. Fisher said she is learning to drive now. She is also working on gastric bypass surgery to help with her weight.
Before the tumor was removed, she weighed 500 pounds, which is now down to 400 pounds. She aims to get her weight between 150 and 200 pounds.
Doctors say they also managed to save Ms Fisher’s fertility as they managed to save her left ovary during surgery.
Ms. Fisher first became concerned that something wasn’t right when she was 14 years old, but doctors told her to lose weight and even put her on weight watchers.
Her menstrual cycle started when she was 17. It lasted for a year and stopped before she later returned abnormally heavy. She never had a regular period,
BEFORE AND AFTER: Ms. Fisher shown before and after surgery to remove the tumor. Immediately afterward, she was 100 pounds lighter, equivalent to losing about a fifth of her body weight
Mrs. Fisher (in red dress) is now learning to drive and says she plans to lose weight. She is pictured above with Dr Martin Martino leading the surgery. Also pictured are Nicole Antenucci (left), physician assistant, and Kendall Bugbee (right), registered nurse
In 2020, she started experiencing stomach aches and faced a period that lasted an entire year.
But she put off seeing doctors because she didn’t have health insurance and was afraid they’d just tell her to lose weight.
Her mother Eileen was diagnosed with cancer in 2021. Ms Fisher said that after seeing everything her mother had battled through, she decided to go to the doctor again.
It was then that she was asked by strangers if she was pregnant and her stomach had turned rock hard.
She went to Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville in November, where scans detected the tumor but found it was not cancer. Doctors recommended that she have surgery.
Just before Christmas, she was rushed back to the ER there after she had bleeding from her vagina that was so bad she thought she was bleeding.
Doctors then rushed her to the operating room to have the tumor removed.
It was done using a minimally invasive robotic technique, in which doctors make a small incision and then use robotic arms to cut out and remove the tumor piece by piece.
Ms Fisher described her stomach before surgery and told News4Jax: ‘I let myself believe if I ignored it it would go away. I was scared, I was just really scared.
“I felt like I was pregnant with ten children. I couldn’t lie on my stomach, it felt like all my organs were being crushed.’
She added: “It was also the height of the pandemic and I was terrified to go out. I didn’t want to look for doctors. I also had no health insurance, so I just completely ignored my problems.
‘[But] after seeing my mom’s struggles and what she was going through, i realized i shouldn’t put my problems off as i was.”
Ms Fisher said she decided to seek help, after putting it off for years, after watching her mum Eileen (also pictured) struggle as she battled cancer
Ovarian cysts are sacs, usually filled with fluid, that can form in or on the surface of the ovary.
Usually these are harmless and most women are not aware they have them unless they show up on a scan.
But in some cases, they can begin to grow and cause symptoms such as pelvic pain, bloating, and painful periods.
The doctor who performed the procedure, Dr Martin Martino, said: ‘Tumors of this size are extremely rare, so as soon as I met Allison I knew this would be a team approach – and our team was ready.
“The robot-assisted technique is minimally invasive and we only make small incisions, so it often means less pain, less scarring and faster recovery for our patients.
“This amazing surgical outcome was made possible by our multidisciplinary team, including our intensive care physicians, gynecologic oncology team, hospital physicians, nursing teams and dietitians, all of whom assisted Allison at this critical time.”
Mrs. Fisher is pictured above with Dr. Martin Martino on local news about her cyst. She speaks out to encourage others to come forward
The cyst was removed using a robotic machine (pictured is Mrs Fisher using the machine) which makes small incisions before gradually removing a tumor
Once the tumor was removed, the doctors said they found her left ovary, which was still a normal size but had been twisted three times.
They untied it and said this would save her fertility and give her the chance to have children.
Ms. Fisher has shared her story to encourage others to speak up if they have medical problems, rather than putting off seeing a doctor.
It was not clear how much the operation cost.
WHAT IS AN OVARIAL CYST
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary. They are very common and usually cause no symptoms.
Most ovarian cysts occur naturally and disappear within a few months without any treatment.
An ovarian cyst usually only causes symptoms if it splits, is very large, or blocks blood flow to the ovaries.
Can lead to:
- pelvic pain – this can range from a dull, heavy sensation to a sudden, severe and sharp pain
- pain during sex
- difficulty emptying the bowels a frequent urge to urinate
- heavy periods, irregular periods or lighter periods than normal
- bloating and a swollen abdomen
- a feeling of fullness after eating just a little
- difficulty conceiving – although fertility is not affected in most women with ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts can also sometimes be caused by an underlying condition, such as endometriosis.
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are noncancerous (benign), although a small number are cancerous (malignant). Cancerous cysts are more common in women who have gone through menopause.
Surgical treatment to remove the cysts may be necessary if they are large, causing symptoms, or may be cancerous.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove both ovaries, in which case you will no longer produce eggs.
Source: health service