Doctors were shocked by what came out of her growing belly

People often carry their burdens silently, and 20-year-old Allison Fisher’s story is a testament to the hidden struggles many face. Her excruciating experience with a growing belly mass turned out to be a life-altering ordeal that finally led to a second chance at life.

At the onset of 2020, Fisher began experiencing severe stomach pain and irregular menstrual cycles that persisted for a whole year. Despite her suffering, she avoided seeking medical assistance, fearing being judged for her weight – a common theme in her past medical encounters.

via Ascension Healthcare Blog

The 20-year-old did not seek medical help, admitting that she was not someone who liked going to doctors because when she was there her weight would typically be the focus.

“I let myself believe that if I ignored it, it would go away,” she said in an interview. “I was scared. I was just really scared.” Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit which further flared her anxiety about seeking medical help.

She further expanded on her hesitation of seeking medical help, “[Growing up,] regardless of what I was there for—whether it was a cold or an ear infection, I was always told, ‘you need to lose weight. You need to lose weight,’” she explained. “If no one’s going to listen to me, if they’re always gonna tell me I need to lose weight, then what’s the point of going? What’s the point of listening to my body?”


But things kept getting worse for Fisher. She noticed a mass growing on her stomach. Soon her stomach became “rock hard” and it became hard for her to stand for longer than 5 minutes. Nor could she drive a car because her midsection had grown so much in size that it became nearly impossible to get behind a wheel for her. Fisher was essentially unable to go anywhere or do anything because of her cyst.

“As I looked closer at it, I realized that it was rock hard. I couldn’t lay on it,” the 20-year-old recalled about her terrible experience.

“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.”

The 20-year-old finally relented and saw a doctor when the mass began to make it difficult for her to breathe around Christmas 2022. Another reason she decided to see a doctor was her mother’s cancer diagnosis in 2021, which further fuelled her desire to get answers about her health and seek medical treatment as soon as she could.

Dr. Martin Martino, a gynecologic oncology surgeon at Ascension St. Vincent’s delivered the news to the anxious young woman. She was told she had a 104-lb. ovarian cyst growing inside of her, which had about 46 liters of fluid. It would have to be surgically removed.

Because of the complications spurred on due to the cyst, he shared that pulmonary and cardiology specialists were also present.

“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

The doctor recalled his first meeting with Fisher. “When we met in the emergency room, she was short of breath,” Martino said. “It was right before Christmas. [While she was] lying on her side, I said, ‘Now’s the time, let’s do this.’”

“What was really interesting in [Fisher’s] case is that once we removed it, we looked at the other ovary because now we could see it, and the left ovary was twisted three times,” Martino told the media.

The medical team wanted to do as much damage control as they possibly could. The doctor added, “That [the left ovary] was about 10 centimeters that really helped us to be able to untwist it and save [Fisher’s] future fertility, and the chance to have kids.”

The 20-year-old had the surgery which removed the gigantic cyst from her system.  She shared how it felt like a “second chance” at life.


Reflecting on her newfound sense of life, she expressed, “I can see my feet again, something I haven’t been able to do in years. I can stand a little longer, and I feel so much lighter—I feel like a person,” she shared. “I can wear clothes and do things that normal people can do. Now, as I embark on the early stages of weight-loss surgery, I’m genuinely excited for what the future holds.”

It’s heartbreaking to think about the weeks, months, and even years this young woman endured her struggles alone, fearing judgment from medical professionals about her weight. Many people hesitate to seek medical advice because they worry their weight will be blamed for their health issues.

“There are others out there in my situation, other people who are afraid to go to the doctor because of their weight,” Fisher said. “I want them to know they shouldn’t be scared.”

With her new lease on life, the 20-year-old is eager to embrace activities she couldn’t do before due to a large cyst that hindered her daily tasks. Two things she looks forward to are driving and preparing meals.

Ovarian cysts are fairly common in women. The Mayo Clinic estimates that “many women have ovarian cysts at some time,” and most “cause little or no discomfort and are harmless.”

Good health is truly a blessing. This young woman waited so long to seek medical help due to fear, and now she uses her story to inspire others who might be afraid of visiting doctors because of their size. She encourages them to overcome their fears and seek the care they need.

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