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After Kevin Daly lost weight post-surgery in 2015, he couldn’t seem to figure out why his stomach wasn’t shrinking.
The 63-year-old New Jersey man had shed 34 pounds after open-heart surgery, but his belly stayed the same size.
Photo of Kevin Daly before his surgery. Courtesy of Kevin Daly
“I thought they literally left stuffing and tools in me from surgery,” Daly told the Daily News earlier this month.
Being dismissed as a “beer belly,” Daly told the paper he wouldn’t stop nagging his doctors.
“I don’t even like beer,” he continued. “I was lean. I’m six-foot-three and very athletic.”
Last year, his cardiologist got in touch with surgeon Dr. Julio Teixeira of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, and requested a CT scan. His tests revealed a large amount of mass was surrounding his organs.
“I was concerned this was a potentially malignant tumour given the size of it alone,” Teixeira tells Global News. “I made arrangements to see him right away.”
Daly had a rare type of tumour called a liposarcoma, he adds, and when it was removed in December 2017, it weighed 30 pounds.
“It was daunting in terms of size,” Teixeira continues. “It was occupying space and displacing organs out of their natural position.”
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, liposarcoma develops in the fatty tissue behind the knee, in the thigh, groin, buttocks or at the back of the abdominal cavity.
“It can be slow or fast growing. The tumour may be large, but the size doesn’t necessarily mean that it is growing quickly,” the society notes.
“Liposarcoma is different from lipoma, which is a benign tumour that starts in fat cells. Lipomas do not develop into cancerous liposarcoma.”
Teixeira adds this was the biggest tumour he has ever seen and removing it wasn’t an easy task either.
The surgery took about four hours (which he adds isn’t unusual), but removing it out of his body became a challenge because Teixeira didn’t want to injure his other organs.
“Just to handle it and pull it out was challenging,” he says. “It was wrapped around his kidney… we didn’t anticipate this.”
Doctors had to remove Daly’s left kidney to fully remove the tumour safely.
Courtesy of Lenox Hill Hospital
After hours of surgery, Teixeira says Daly is doing well.
“These tumours have a tendency to reoccur,” he says. “They don’t spread to distant organs, but they can grow locally. We have to monitor him closely for the next few years.”
Being your own advocate
Teixeira says the biggest takeaway of Daly’s story is the importance of being your own advocate. While his tumour didn’t give him any symptoms, Daly knew something wasn’t right, especially after exercising and trying to lose his belly.
Courtesy of Kevin Daly
He says because Daly was so persistent, he got the care he needed at the right time.
“It is important as patients to advocate for yourself, and for vulnerable family members who can’t often advocate for themselves.”