FORT WORTH -- "Mornin'," said Melvin Jacobs, greeting a neighbor in the courtyard of his northeast Fort Worth apartment.
That he is even out for a morning stroll is reason to be proud. That he is even attempting to walk the hill nearby is reason to rejoice.
"It's 'Pork Chop Hill,'" he said, relaying the nickname his neighbors use. Jacobs said a high school football coach used to make his players run up and down it, telling them they'd be as lean as pork chops when he was done with them.
"You ready?" he asks the home health therapist walking with him, before starting down the hill, knowing he will have to climb back up.
Even stepping outside his front door was a major ordeal just six short months ago.
"You know, even just trying to walk here in the house was horrible," Jacobs said.
He agreed to let us share some of his private medical files, proving what a medical miracle he is. Melvin had a tumor the size of a basketball on his right thigh.
Jacobs was almost bed-ridden because of it. He gained 100 pounds and suffered depression. The tumor, which started small and ballooned to a never-before-seen size over the course of nine years, made him virtually immobile.
He sought help from nine doctors all across Texas, but none would offer help or hope.
"My doctors told me if I didn't get my weight under control or have weight loss surgery, I'd die in six months," he said.
No doctor was willing to try to remove the tumor, until Jacobs found Dr. Albert Yurvati, a surgeon at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
"That's what he kept saying over and over, 'Doctor can you help me? Can you please help me?'" Yurvati said.
Yurvati ordered in depth scans and tests, which determined the tumor was not cancerous. And during a two-hour operation in October, Yurvati and a colleague removed the 18-pound growth.
"What it was was a soft tissue tumor," Yurvati explained, calling it a lipoma. Lipomas are relatively common, but Jacobs' is believed to be the largest lipoma ever removed from a thigh.
"I've now had some of the best doctors and therapists in the world," Jacobs said. "Dr. Yurvati basically saved my life."
Jacobs can now move, walk, and even climb.
"Made it up Pork Chop Hill man!" he said with a smile, after conquering the hill outside his home.
"Attaboy," said his therapist.
He has now lost the 100 pounds he gained, and vows to lose more.
"I saw him in the office last week. He actually walked in the office," Dr. Yurvati said. "He was happy. You could tell in his face it had changed him -- that's the rewarding part."
Yurvati said Jacobs' prognosis is good, as long as he continues to lose weight.
"I just feel like I'm a new person. I have something to live for, something to get up for every morning," Jacobs said. He hopes his story encourages other patients struggling to find help with mysterious illnesses.
"Even though you may get doors slammed in your face, don't let it stop you," he said. "You've got to keep trying, keep trying, and never give up."
"Search and don't give up, keep looking," he said. "Sometimes we can't find a way to help someone, but in this case, we did. It's very rewarding to give this man his life back."