After Joy Self noticed her belly was swelling, doctors told her she had a hernia.
But when the 70-year-old finally went under the knife after more than a decade, surgeons removed a beach ball-sized tumour weighing an astonishing 56lb.
Ms Self, of Garland, near Dallas, Texas, said it was between 10 and 12 years ago that she first noticed she was putting on weight.
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Size of a beach ball: Joy Self's swollen belly, shown shortly before she had an enormous ovarian tumour cut out
Her stomach grew and grew, yet she did not seek medical help until years later - by which point the bump had inflated to grotesque proportions.
'Three different doctors thought it was a hernia,' she told local broadcaster CBS DFW.
And so Ms Self was shocked when staff at Medical City Dallas Hospital revealed that the growth was actually a benign ovarian tumour.
Carrying around the weight of about four bowling balls had taken its toll on Ms Self.
By the time doctors took action she was suffering severe pain in her back, ribs and stomach and could barely walk, using furniture to steady herself.
Dr Thomas Heffernan, one of the surgeons at the hospital, said the tumour was cutting off the patient's circulation, preventing blood from flowing to her legs and back to her heart.
Suffered in silence: The 70-year-old patient first noticed her stomach was growing more than a decade ago
Following the complex operation last month, he told CBS: 'It was well off the beaten path. There’s not a paragraph or chapter that tells you quite how to do this one. It had distorted the normal anatomy so much, you had to be careful you didn’t injure something, a loop of bowel for example.'
Once removed, the growth was sent to a lab for analysis, where it was found to be made up of thin walls holding a viscous fluid.
Dr Heffernan had not seen a tumour of this size for years. He said he had encountered a 100lb growth while he was training, but even this is dwarfed by the world record of 300lb.
Ms Self spoke of her relief that her ordeal is over, and said the experience has cured her phobia of doctors.
'I feel wonderful now,' she added.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2149806/Woman-56lb-tumour-removed-doctors-said-just-hernia.html#ixzz1vu29Yhkk