Many individuals face challenges in their lives that often go unnoticed by others. They silently bear their struggles, which may be emotionally and physically taxing.
Allison Fisher, a 20-year-old, had a similar experience, but fortunately, she received a much-needed second chance in life. In 2020, Allison began suffering from what she initially believed to be stomach pain. The discomfort was nearly continuous, and she also faced irregularities in her menstrual cycle. Remarkably, Allison experienced a single period that persisted for an entire year.
Allison, who was reluctant to seek medical assistance, admitted that she disliked visiting doctors, as her weight was often the main focus during appointments. She convinced herself that if she ignored her symptoms, they would eventually disappear. Allison was also frightened and anxious, particularly when the Covid-19 pandemic began, which made her even more hesitant to seek help.
Allison’s reluctance was fueled by her past experiences with healthcare professionals, who would constantly emphasize her need to lose weight, regardless of the reason for her visit. This left her feeling unheard and discouraged, leading her to question the point of seeking medical attention or listening to her body’s signals.
Fisher’s condition continued to worsen, as she discovered a growing mass on her stomach, which eventually became rock hard. This made it difficult for her to stand for more than five minutes at a time. Driving became nearly impossible due to the increased size of her midsection. As a result, Fisher was essentially unable to go anywhere or engage in any activities due to the cyst.
The 20-year-old recounted her distressing experience, noting that her stomach was so hard she couldn’t even lay on it. She described the sensation as if she were pregnant with ten children, with her stomach feeling as though all her organs were being crushed.
“I felt like I was pregnant with 10 kids,” she explained. “I couldn’t lay on my stomach. It felt like all my organs were being crushed.”
In December 2022, Allison finally decided to consult a doctor when the mass started to affect her breathing. Her mother’s cancer diagnosis in 2021 also played a significant role in motivating her to seek medical help and learn more about her own health.
Dr. Martin Martino, a gynecologic oncology surgeon at Ascension St. Vincent’s, informed the anxious young woman that she had a 104-pound ovarian cyst containing about 46 liters of fluid inside her. The cyst required surgical removal. Due to the complications associated with the cyst, pulmonary and cardiology specialists were also involved in her treatment.
“We came together and said, ‘Let’s figure out a way to remove this,’” Martino explained. Physician assistant Nicole Antenucci emphasized that the procedure, which involved robotic technology, “truly took a team.”
“We all just felt so lucky to be able to be a part of it and help her and now be part of her journey moving forward,” Antenucci said
Dr. Martino shared his initial encounter with Fisher, recalling that she was experiencing shortness of breath when they first met in the emergency room. He decided that it was time to take action and proceed with the surgery.
Interestingly, after removing the cyst, the medical team noticed that Fisher’s left ovary was twisted three times. The doctors aimed to minimize any potential damage, and Dr. Martino mentioned that the left ovary, being about 10 centimeters, allowed them to untwist it successfully. This crucial step helped preserve Fisher’s future fertility and her chance to have children.
Following the surgery to remove the enormous cyst, the 20-year-old felt like she had been given a second chance at life. She expressed her joy at seeing her feet again after years and feeling much lighter, like a whole new person. Allison shared that she could now wear clothes and participate in everyday activities just like anyone else. Looking ahead, she was excited to begin the initial stages of weight-loss surgery and discover what the future held for her.
Allison’s story highlights the challenges she faced for an extended period due to her fear of judgment from medical professionals concerning her weight. Many individuals feel apprehensive about seeking medical help, worrying that their weight will be held responsible for their health issues.
Allison emphasized that there are others in similar situations, who, due to their weight, are afraid to seek medical help. She encouraged them not to be scared and seek the assistance they need.
Now, with a fresh start, the 20-year-old is eager to do everything she couldn’t due to the massive cyst that hindered her daily activities. Among the things she looks forward to are driving and cooking meals.
Ovarian cysts are relatively common among women. The Mayo Clinic estimates that many women experience ovarian cysts at some point in their lives. Most of these cysts cause little or no discomfort and are generally harmless.
Having good health is truly a blessing. Allison’s story is a powerful reminder of the importance of seeking medical help despite fear or apprehension. Now, she uses her experience to inspire others, particularly those who may be bigger in size and afraid to seek medical assistance, to overcome their fears and prioritize their health.
Sharing this story can encourage others to take care of their health and seek help when needed.