Lehigh Valley

Woman loses more than half her body weight after 140-pound mass is removed

VIDEO: Life-saving Loss

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Like many women, 71-year-old Mary Clancey has struggled with her weight, especially over the last two decades.

"I was at the doctor's and I said what do you think, what do I do about his pot belly? He said just watch your diet and take care," said Clancey.

To shed pounds, Mary ate mostly salads and started walking more.

She even managed to resist the tasty treats at the Boscov Candy counter where she worked.

But the scale would not budge.

"I tried everything I saw on television, I bought lipozine, hydroxycut," said Clancey.

"I just slowly kept getting a bigger potbelly. I was filing out and I guess 16 years of pot belly I started to become chubbier, so I thought I was becoming a little old fat little old lady."

After she broke her ankle, she could no longer exercise.

And when she retired from Boscov's, her weight gain accelerated.

"Suddenly I had a harder time walking, my legs hurt more," said Clancey.

At 365 pounds, Mary developed a blood clot in her leg.

Doctors believed the weight of her stomach was the cause and ordered an MRI.

"They came back and she said to me there is a huge mass in your stomach area," said Clancey.

A cyst in one of Mary's ovaries had grown into a 140-pound stage one cancer.

Dr. Richard Boulay with Lehigh Valley Health Network says Mary's mass was mistaken for fat because by the time she talked to a doctor it had grown so large it filled her abdomen.

"It was exactly like a boulder. It was huge," said Boulay.

Boulay say he knew this would be a difficult surgery.

"The first thing we had to do is make sure that when the mass was lifted up that the clot that it was holding back didn't break up and go to her lungs because that is fatal," said Boulay.

"We had to secure her to the table and secure two tables together. So the mass took up one once we released the mass from all its attachments," Boulay explained.

"That thing rolled out and I looked like an empty Easter egg," said Clancey.

The surgery lasted five hours.

Doctors also removed 40 pounds of skin and had to do reconstruction work on Mary's abdomen.

When Mary woke up a few hours later, she was 180 pounds lighter.

"It's so hard to look at clothing because I don't know what size I really am," said Clancey.

Mary now weighs 147 pounds.

She says she still hasn't gotten used to her new body and still has problems with her leg.

But she's happy to be more mobile.

"I like antiques and I find different things when we go out places," said Clancey.

Mary says hopes her experience helps others.

She says if someone is having trouble losing weight, they should talk to their doctor and see if they too might have a mass.

"All television does is tell us that we're fat. Do you every notice all of the commercials, how to lose weight, buy this, buy that, buy an exercise machine and everybody is taking special diets and maybe we are not all fat maybe there is something else there, you know?"

Dr. Boulay says while he has seen a lot of large ovarian masses, Mary's is the largest he has ever removed.

He says annual gynecological visits are key to catching masses early.


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