Keely Favell, a regular young woman in her twenties, was about to find herself in the middle of a medical mystery that she and her doctors could not resolve. Things were steadily getting worse and worse and she could not find any rhyme or reason for her decline. Usually healthy, her condition was to take over her life during her search for a correct diagnosis. This would be a lengthy roller coaster ride that would push Keely to the edge.
With her stomach growing, Keely assumed she was pregnant and took numerous over the counter home pregnancy tests. All of the results were negative, increasing her concern as to the reason for her swollen belly. With the obvious cause ruled out, she began fearing the worst as her distended belly only continued to swell. Something was very wrong, and she felt completely alone in her troubles. Was there no one out there that could help her?
This typical young lady hails from Swansea in Wales. She started putting on weight in 2014 and after a few years, she looked pregnant. Keely admitted to the BBC that she had never been skinny but had never had such a large stomach before. It seemed like the normal weight gain that many people experience as they grow older had suddenly taken a sharp turn in a worrying direction. This was not the usual chubbiness that people can diet and exercise away!
An Active Lifestyle
Speaking of diet and fitness, Keely worked hard to keep the pounds off. As she was naturally curvy, Keely made sure she kept fit, went to the gym regularly to maintain her figure, and ate only healthy foods. But it seemed like no matter how little she ate, or how many hours she spent in the gym, her condition continued to progress, completely out of her control. As her weight continued to increase despite this, she became exasperated.
Appearances Can Be Deceiving
This was a condition that went far beyond just her personal life. She was worried that other people would soon begin forming their own theories and opinion, and not just her close friends. Keely was concerned that she would not look her best at her employers’ end of year party. The outfit she had chosen accentuated her swollen stomach and she felt anxious about her weight gain. It seemed like there was no way to hide what was happening to her.
The Situation Snowballs
Even though Keely was going to the gym and adhering to a healthy eating plan, her stomach just kept on getting bigger. She felt so demoralized when her weight kept increasing even though she was doing everything to prevent weight gain. And it was weird because it was particularly her stomach that was gaining most of the weight, getting really swollen. The rest of her body was not fattening in the way that one normally would.
While Kelly had managed to make it all seem like her body was balancing out the weight gain, one area began expanding to the point that discretion was not an option. She could no longer avoid the fact that most of the weight gain was on her stomach. Her belly also began to feel different, nothing like one does when they gain weight normally. She needed to find out why this was happening, and fast.
Her tummy was sensitive to touch and felt more solid than normal. Keely thought that if she stuck to her healthy lifestyle, the problem would resolve itself. But there are some things that no matter how hard you try to rectify, simply persist inevitably. She would soon find out that her positive attitude was not going to change the situation. It was time to get more professional help, but was Keely going to get it?
She was now a size 8 but still did not consider seeking medical advice. Her Dad was a doctor and she was apprehensive about a negative diagnosis. She did not want to feel any more afraid than she already was. Keely had a sneaky feeling that she knew the reason for her expanding abdomen. It was not something she wanted to believe but she realized she may have to face facts. Little did she know things were about to get worse.
After analyzing all her symptoms, Keely came to the conclusion that she must be expecting. She was in a committed relationship but she and her boyfriend had not planned on having a child at this stage in their lives but it was possible that they may have to rethink their plans for the future. After all, it was not beyond the realms of possibility that couples experience this kind of surprise. How would her boyfriend react to her thoughts?
A Child in their Future
The couple had been together for a decade and both knew there was a possibility that Keely was pregnant. Both Keely and her boyfriend, Jamie Gibbons, felt unprepared at the prospect of parenthood but they had to confirm if this was going to happen or not. Parenthood is something that people need to gear themselves toward, with much discussion and planning for a major change in their combined future. Were Keely and her man ready for all that?
Incredibly, the home pregnancy test was negative. Both Keely and her boyfriend were confused by the result, so she took another test which also turned out to be negative. This left Keely in a world of confusion and even fear. All the signs pointed to her being pregnant, but the standard tests were all saying otherwise. This was a complete medical mystery that obviously needed a strong presence from the appropriate experts. Was Keely going to need their help!
Jamie and Keely knew it was time for her to see a medical professional. The symptoms she had were now very worrying as she was not pregnant. She may have had a miscarriage and not known or there could be something even more serious going on. There is all manner of horrifying issues that can arise in the realm of pregnancy, and Keely was not going to discount any grim possibilities. Things were seeming nightmarish for the poor Keely.
Finding a Diagnosis
The couple agreed that Keely needed to see a doctor. They would not get answers, however. The doctor examined her and told her she was just chubby. Keely felt she had nowhere else to go for help in diagnosing her condition. Can you imagine how trapped and afraid this poor woman must have felt? When not even doctors can help you with a serious condition, you can feel imprisoned by your suffering with no way out.
The couple knew something was wrong with Keely. Up until now, she had not sought a diagnosis as she was living her life normally despite the weight gain and fatigue. She had no idea what else it could be if she was not pregnant. No matter how much personal research Keely did, or how many professional opinions she received, there was little sense that to be made out of anything. The couple were going to need divine intervention, it seemed.
Keely felt that she was expecting a baby and was not sure why the doctors were telling her otherwise. She knew she should trust that the medical professionals knew what they were doing, but something held her back. While we should generally put our good faith in doctors, we also need to realize that they are also prone to making errors just like the rest of us. Keely’s inner voice was strangely telling her otherwise.
If Keely was having a baby, all her symptoms would be resolved once the child was born. To her dismay, her tummy continued to get larger for the next couple of years – far longer than any pregnancy. This made her pregnancy theory dubious at best, but she could not shake the feeling that it was still plausibility in the realm of possibility. Finally, she got so ill that something happened at work one day.
Yielding to the Symptoms
Her long term fatigue caught up with her at work when, on a typical day, she suddenly felt sick to her stomach and fainted. After she came around her colleagues told her she had just passed out suddenly. This was no longer just a concerning state that her body was in, it was downright alarming! Keely’s health was starting to become seriously affected and she could no longer allow this years’ long condition to dominate her life like this.
An Arduous Situation
After her fainting spell in the office, Keely made an appointment to see a doctor immediately. As Keely told him her workload was high at the time, he diagnosed her fainting spell as stress-related and offered no other possible explanation for her symptoms. But it was clear to Keely that stress had little to do with her alarming symptoms. She was no stranger to dealing with work-related troubles and had no prior stress-related symptoms to speak of.
Her doctor had not persuaded Keely that work stress was the cause of her blackout. He did try to put her mind at ease by telling her that it was nothing serious and again confirmed that she was not expecting. It seemed like as the doctors could not pin her symptoms down to anything conventional or obvious, that they lacked the skill or care needed to give Keely the answers that she so desperately needed.
It Is Not What You Think
People that Keely saw on a daily basis kept asking her if she was pregnant and she had to constantly fend off comments and questions about her large stomach. This only fueled the flames of her fears, and the confused faces of those that she spoke to only made her feel even more agitated. Was there really no one in the world that could help Keely? Where could they possibly be hiding? Keely was determined to see this all through.
An Ongoing Situation
She responded to the never-ending questions and curiosity of others by saying that she had just put on some weight but she felt really fed-up with the whole situation. Why should she be continually forced to come up with answers that she herself was desperate for? She really wished that people would just mind their own business. Of course, given how ‘pregnant’ Keely seemed, it seemed like people’s curiosity was here to stay. But for how long?
When is the Baby Due?
But it seemed like Keely could not hide or run away from people. She was a social person, and could not simply stop working. People asked Keely when she was due all the time. After a few of these questions, Keely started to tell them she was just putting on weight to spare their feelings when they realized she was not pregnant. She was also starting to believe this herself. It had been years, after all.
Altered Body Shape
Just like a soon-to-be mom, Keely was tottering around with her large belly. She was mortified by the change in her body and even had to buy new clothes from the maternity department as nothing else she tried on would accommodate her belly. It was a completely disturbing feeling, buying clothes for an otherwise joyful process that Keely was not even sure she was a part of. Life had become extremely strange for the young lady.
Keely went shopping for new clothes in December 2016 and says that at that stage, her legs were their normal size, her tummy was huge and her top half was skinny. With a body shape like that, she could only shop for maternity wear. There are no other clothing types that will accommodate that kind of body shape and its proportions. It was incredibly awkward having to smile at other women who were shopping in that section alongside her.
Her stomach kept getting bigger and bigger. After she continued fainting at work and started having trouble breathing, Keely finally sought specialized medical opinions. Her situation was clearly beyond the expertise and knowledge of the average doctor. What she needed was someone with many years of experience in mysterious and ambiguous medical cases like the one that Keely was experiencing. But what kind of specialist even dealt with cases like Keely’s? It seemed like such a niche issue.
Keely’s colleagues insisted she makes an appointment with a specialist for a full check-up. They could not understand why she was not looking after her health as she should. It was obvious something was wrong so why had she not done this sooner? But it wasn’t easy, since the doctors kept telling her nothing except severe weight gain was the matter. It was all too easy for people to judge Keely without empathizing with what she was experiencing.
A Different Diagnosis
But it was clear that Keely was trying to keep As she attempted to keep life as normal as possible, Keely was ignoring the fact that she was in fact very ill. After the fourth blackout, she stopped being apathetic about her health care and went to see a specialist. On this occasion, the doctor said her chronic medication for acne was the cause of her fatigue but Keely knew this was not the cause.
Keely now felt that the doctors were not taking the investigation into her condition with any urgency but were only looking for factors in her life that could perhaps explain the symptoms. She had had enough. She was not some annoying hypochondriac looking for validation. This was a person with a serious medical condition whose life was being ruined! She needed to find someone that would take her seriously and show her the care that she deserved.
There was one serious medication that Keely had been using to help manage her acne, but this was some time in the past. Keely had actually stopped taking the acne medication months before and told the doctor there had to be another reason for her symptoms. Her symptoms were far more severe than skin medication side effects. The doctor again suggested she may be pregnant and this time took a blood sample to test for pregnancy.
Keely’s doctor did not examine her for pregnancy and was sure she was expecting even though the blood results were negative. He ordered an ultrasound to be done again as she was struggling to walk or breathe normally. At the very least, this doctor saw that their patient was suffering intensely and that they had a serious problem, unrelated to anything psychological or stress-related. Was this the person that Keely had been desperately seeking all these years?
Finally a Diagnosis
The doctor asked the ultrasound technician to advise him immediately if Keely was pregnant. She hoped that the ultrasound would finally give her some answers, and convince the doctor to look elsewhere for a solution to her medical mystery. You probably know by now that there was nothing simple about Keely’s case, and that any clues that would actually be found would not be straightforward. Little did she expect the results to further complicate matters.
Kelly lay flat on her back and the technician rubbed the special gel on her swollen stomach before beginning the inspection. As the technician did the ultrasound, Keely watched his face carefully. She felt fear when his facial expression changed to one of concern. Despite his best efforts to reassure and comfort Kelly, she was certain that something disturbing was showing up on the attached screen. Whatever the technician was seeing, it certainly was not related to normal pregnancy signs.
Trying to Keep Calm
Once the technician finished inspecting Keely’s body, he met with the doctor in private to discuss what he had seen. Keely’s doctor requested a second opinion on the ultrasound results from another specialist and she froze in alarm. What was going on in her tummy that suddenly had these doctors so concerned? This was something that was beyond two experienced experts – certainly cause for alarm. What was Keely in for? Nothing good, it seemed.
All of Keely’s theories went out the window in an instant. The ultrasound showed she was not carrying a baby. So then what on Earth was causing her stomach to swell, and all the fainting spells and sickness? There was another issue that the test picked up, one which left untreated could prove to be fatal. Terrifyingly, even with all the treatment in the world, there was a high chance that Keely would not survive.
What the ultrasound revealed could be anything from a cyst or tumor to an abnormality of her uterus. Keely’s mind was reeling and she was so scared to hear what was wrong. After all these years of having been desperate for answers, all of a sudden, it seemed like Keely was scared to hear the truth. There were so many options, and none of them sounded positive or reassuring. It seemed like her already chaotic state was only worsening.
One thing was for sure, however, and that was that Keely needed more in-depth tests. The doctors now ordered a CT scan that would reveal a shocking truth. Keely could barely keep calm as she lay on the giant machine’s bed and her head entered the enormous ring. The minutes inside that claustrophobic hollow felt like hours. The doctors tried to keep Keely calm before breaking the news to her and her boyfriend who was waiting with her for the final results.
The doctors confirmed finally that Keely was not and never was pregnant. It made sense, given how many years she had been suffering from this condition, far longer than even the most bizarre late pregnancy cases. The cause of her growing stomach was a massive ovarian lump. Keely felt her world tilting on its axis. The doctors could not exactly determine what the lump was at this stage, but this revelation on its own shattered Keely’s happiness completely.
The lump turned out to be a 24-centimeter broad ovarian cyst. It was attached to her stomach and was the cause of the weight gain around her midriff. If it ruptured, the cyst could prove to be fatal. Medical attention was required immediately. The doctors could not believe that Keely had gone on with this severe affliction for so long and were shocked that their fellow doctors had failed to pick up anything. It was a miracle that she was still standing.
A Different Kind of Cyst
An ovarian cyst is a sac that is filled with fluid and grows on the ovaries. Whilst they are not rare and often do not cause any health issues, Keely’s ovarian cyst was different. Plenty of women will develop ovarian cysts that their bodies will generally take care of after a few months. Unfortunately for Kelly, whatever had grown in her system was far beyond anything that her body could deal with. She needed emergency medical attention.
Size Makes a Difference
If an ovarian cyst bursts and it is either very big or it blocks the blood from getting to the ovaries, it can endanger the woman’s life. The cyst that Keely had was abnormally large. Her condition had slowly but steadily progressed without the proper medical attention or care, and it had been allowed to worsen to a critical level. The doctors now had the challenge of their careers, and Keely’s life, in their hands.
Keely was able to see a specialist one month later who explained the treatment options to her. The time in between her first proper examination and the next one seemed to stretch on for years unbearably. There was little that she could do to calm herself, and she felt trapped in her body that had gone so terribly wrong. To this day, she will never forget his face when he first examined her and saw the size of her tummy.
Doctor is Stunned
You have probably had your fair share of mild to serious health issues in your life, and your doctors most likely would generally keep a straight face during the diagnosis and discussion. People’s nerves will generally heavily rely on their doctor’s reactions to stay calm. As the specialist confirmed to Keely that she had a large ovarian cyst he could not completely hide his amazement at the size of the mass. He had never seen such a large cyst.
The specialist also warned Keely that she could have many cysts and that some of them may be attached to her internal organs. Given how much trouble one cyst had brought Keely, she shuddered to think what more would bring. She was shocked and knew now that the only option she had to resolve this was for the doctors to operate on her to remove the cyst or cysts. She was afraid, but wished nothing more than to get her body back!
The Cause of All of Her Symptoms
Other causes for her ongoing symptoms had now been discarded by the medical professionals but they were still not sure of the damage the cyst had done to Keely’s body. She obviously had health issues and now they knew it was definitely not because she was pregnant. This was a complicated health issue that had brought widespread chaos to Keely’s body, and who knew what the extent of the damage was? It was time to find out…
Keely would work closely with her specialist and his team to properly establish the state that she was in, and what the best way forwards was. The specialist needed to operate to determine just how large the cyst was, before even considering whether to operate further to remove it. He was concerned that over time, Keely had been told by numerous doctors that she had no significant medical issues. This was certainly a cause for medical negligence!
A Definite Fact
Keely’s specialist doctor was able to confirm that he would only have to remove one ovary. He did explain to her that depending on the actual position of the cyst she may need a longer hospital stay after surgery. She felt as though she could be in for a long-haul hospital stay. Either way, this was clearly going to be a long medical campaign that would test all of Keely’s courage and endurance like never before.
Surrounded by Family
As her mom lived in Australia, Keely had not told her about her health issues over time, as she didn’t want her mom to panic. Amazingly, everyone back at home was completely oblivious to how their beloved Keely had suffered and deteriorated over time. Now that she knew what was wrong, she needed her mom by her side and decided to tell her and the rest of her family the news. Needless to say, they were in for a huge shock.
On Her Own
Keely could not face the impending operation without her mom and sisters being with her and supporting her through this ordeal. Before the final diagnosis, she had managed on her own but now needed her family by her side. This was going to be the most terrifying and challenging experience of her life, and there was no way that she could face it without the love, empathy, and encouragement of her family. Sometimes, a partner is not enough.
Thankfully, Keely’s mom immediately began preparing to rush to her daughter’s side, almost as soon as she got off the phone with her. Her mom flew in from Australia two days later but her dad had to stay at home. Even though there was a large time difference, he would be able to talk to her on the phone at any time. Keely now had emotional support and felt she was prepared to face the operation and recovery process.
The specialist told Keely he would operate within the month and the time passed quickly. During the month’s wait, her belly had become even larger and had grown another five inches. This was a monstrous growth that was like something out of a horror film, only it was Keely’s waking life. It was clear that if Keely was left to her own devices for much longer that a fatal outcome was inevitable. The time for action had finally come.
Immediate Operation Needed
Keely’s specialist had asked a high-risk obstetrician to consult on the case and he said he needed to operate right away. This was the kind of complex medical scenario that needed a large team of specialists and experts on-hand to best decide the way forwards and then manage the eventual procedure. He explained that he would need to cut Keely from her breast bone to her pelvic bone. It was like she was going to be chopped in half. Keely was terrified.
The Big Day
The night before the operation, Keely could not sleep, and she just lay in bed with her eyes wide open, terrified of what was to come in several hours. As dawn crept into her bedroom, she knew that it was time to face her destiny. On the morning of the operation, Keely was given a hospital gown and socks. After she had changed, the nurse showed her to her room. She felt numb as she realized that she was about to be injected with a large needle.
Nerves Taking Over
Keely had a bit of a panic attack and it took two nurses to restrain her as she wanted to leave the hospital and would not hold still so that they could administer the injection. If you have ever been for a major operation, you might be able to empathize with Keely’s terror and need to flee the building. She says that at that moment she felt like this was her final day on earth.
The surgery on Keely was estimated to take an hour. But as the specialists proceeded with the operation, it was clear that they had a far more challenging job on their hands than they had first anticipated and it took much longer. After five hours, her family was frantic for news. They feared she would not make it through the operation. Even though it took so long, the doctor was able to remove the mass.
After many hours of incredibly difficult and sensitive surgery, the surgery finally ended. The surgeons heaved an enormous mass out of Keely’s body, and they were shocked that this woman had been carrying around such a massive burden for so long. Everyone knew the cyst was large but when it was weighed, they were all shocked. Finally, it was out of Keely’s body and she could concentrate on her recovery. She woke up as a completely different person.
The thought of the operation scared Keely but she knew that she needed to have the cyst removed so she could get back to normalcy. As terrified as she was of the hectic procedure that she was about to undergo, she was braced by the thought of returning to light and healthy life. She did not expect the operation time to run so long and her family felt such anxiety waiting for her to be taken to the recovery room.
As she came around from the anaesthetic, Keely was shown pictures of the cyst by the hospital staff who were amazed by its size. Keely had become almost used to being a slave to this horrifying mass, but seeing what it looked like shocked her into perspective. It weighed a whopping 60 pounds. That is like carrying 7 babies at the same time. Keely was a soldier for having endured such a load for years.
Famous for What?
As she came around, Keely was groggy and did not understand what was happening. She had no idea that she had spent a large part of the day at the mercy of the skill and delicacy of her specialists. She was taken back to the hospital ward as the nurses were showing her pictures of what had just been taken out of her. She felt a strange mixture of horror and relief at seeing just what had been removed from her body.
The 60-pound cyst was a third of Keely’s body weight and finally, she realized just how much the cyst had negatively impacted her life. It had taken over. She was not able to do many things that she had previously taken for granted. She had felt almost like a freak with this enormous growth that she was so desperate to hide from everyone. It was now finally time to recover and heal from this trauma.
60 Pounds Lighter
After the cyst had been removed, she felt great as she was literally 60 pounds lighter! Before the operation, she could not drive very well or walk upstairs with ease. Almost any physical activity was a challenge, and her confidence and body image had been destroyed. The most ordinary processes in her life had all been made a lot more complicated and challenging. The operation had given her a new lease on life and she had a newfound appreciation.
Keely could not grasp that the cyst had weighed so much. Even though she had carried it around for years, and it had become a seemingly permanent resident in her body, seeing what it looked like out of her body was an alien feeling. After seeing pictures of it, she likened it to a huge mass of ice cream and decided to name her cyst “Mr. Whippy” as a joke. At least she still had her sense of humor!
A Medical Record
The size of Keely’s cyst made her a medical oddity. The hospital staff and she and her family could not wrap their heads around what had been living in her all this time. Plenty of people have suffered growths in their lives, but they rarely grow to even a fraction of the size that Keely’s did. This was a biological anomaly that very few people have ever suffered. Keely was truly a wonder for having lived through this!
Four days after her operation, Keely was discharged in good health. The doctors had previously expected that she might need to spend weeks in the hospital recovering, but Keely was healing at a phenomenal rate. She had her mom and her boyfriend helped her through her recovery and now felt that her fear before the operation was worth the way she felt now. It is difficult for her to remember what it was like to be 60 pounds heavier.
Keely’s enormous scar runs from her breast bone to her pubic bone and measures 30 centimeters. Despite this, she was able to get out of her hospital bed shortly after the operation and walk around a bit. She was so excited to begin living again and having her pre-cyst body back. She had lost her right ovary but it would not affect her chances of becoming pregnant when she felt that she was ready to have children.
Having a swollen tummy for so long resulted in Keely having stretch marks which do remind her of her ordeal but she says she would rather have stretch marks than that huge belly. Thankfully, she did not have any loose skin, and would not need to worry about any cosmetic surgery to tidy her stomach up. Scars heal over time, even ones as intense as the ones that Keely sustained. There was nothing left to fear.
A New Person
After her surgery when Keely’s family saw her back in the hospital ward, they were shocked at how thin she appeared to be. What they saw was a woman who was now half the size she was before the surgery. While Keely’s family only spent a short while with her while she still carried the cyst, they were well aware of how insufferable it must have been for her. They were just happy that she was finally healthy and well.
Apart from a few minor issues, Keely has recovered well. Her health is now back to normal and she has recovered very well both physically and emotionally. Those awful years will stay with her forever, but she has a newfound appreciation for the value of good health and a normal body. She is now committed to staying in shape, eating healthily, and going for regular checkups with her specialist. While her case was extremely rare, we should all make sure that we visit our doctors frequently.
Keely says that her recovery was smoother and faster thanks to the support of her family, coworkers, and friends. She is very grateful that they were with her during this time and she feels very blessed. She might not have been able to get through this ordeal if she had been alone, and she would never forget how amazing her loved ones and friends had been during this time. Her boyfriend had been there for her through the entire process.
A Role Model
Over the past year, Keely has regained confidence in her body and has decided to share her story with others which is poignant and her courage is commendable. Anyone who is suffering from a difficult and seemingly unexplainable medical mystery can take a page out of Keely’s book. Never stop trying to find help, and know that there are people out there competent and caring enough to carry you through any experience. You are never alone!
The Future Looks Good
Her doctors have told Keely that she will be able to conceive even though she only has one ovary now and despite the scar and stretch marks reminding her of her ordeal, she is grateful to the surgeon who gave her her life back. We are certain that Keely will have the family that she dreams of, and that the next time that her stomach grows again, that it will be a joyous and beautiful experience.