DALLAS, Texas — A Dallas woman is recovering Wednesday night after a 17-pound cancerous tumor was removed from her body last week, a procedure that may not have happened if she hadn't gotten a second opinion from a specialist.
Amanda Shoultz, 29, began 2021 with a concern: she noticed she was gaining weight around her stomach and wanted to do something about it.
"I started physically noticing a change in my stomach in January," Shoultz said. "I had noticed I was slowly starting to gain weight over the years, but I just thought it was part of getting older."
"But this, my stomach almost looked like I was bloated all the time."
Shoultz made some life changes but said that she didn't notice any improvements.
"I started exercising more and dieting more," Shoultz said. "I gave up lactose, I gave up gluten, and I even gave up meat for a while. But I was somehow getting bigger despite working out and eating better."
After no success, Shoultz decided to see a physician. Following a checkup and some bloodwork, nothing alarming was found.
"Everything came back normal," Shoultz said. "Completely normal and nothing out of the ordinary."
Still, Shoultz wasn't convinced. Last month she decided to see a gastroenterologist.
"He immediately ordered bloodwork again and also did a CT scan," said Shoultz.
That CT scan got down to the problem. It revealed that a cancerous tumor, 33 centimeters wide, was growing inside of Shoultz's stomach.
Shoultz was diagnosed with Liposarcoma on Sept. 21, a rare type of cancer that develops in a person's fat tissue. The specific cause of Liposarcoma is still unknown.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Liposarcoma affects roughly 2,000 people a year in the United States.
"Everything started moving very fast once we knew what it was," said Shoultz.
"I was in so much shock that I wasn't processing anything. It was very eye-opening."
Surgery was scheduled to remove the tumor immediately at Baylor University Medical Center, just six days after Shoultz's diagnosis. The biggest concern: if the tumor continues to grow, it may impact vital organs within the body.
Doctors discovered that the tumor had formed around one of Shoultz's kidneys and adrenal glands during that surgery. Both had to be removed along with the tumor.
The surgery took roughly two hours as doctors had to make a 12-inch incision down Shoultz's stomach.
When the tumor was removed, it weighed 17 pounds.
"When I woke up, and they told me it weighed that much, I remember being like I think I misheard you because of the medication I'm on," Shoultz said with a laugh. "That's massive."
Shoultz weighed 125 lbs. at the time of surgery and left weighing 108 lbs.
"I think everyone is so shocked that something like this could be inside of me, growing, and especially with me being so small," said Shoultz.
The cancer didn't spread to Shoultz's body, so that's good news. And after five days in the hospital, the 29-year-old is now at home recovering and just thankful she listened to her instincts and her gut.
"Listen to your body because no one knows it better than you," Shoultz said. "If all the tests are coming back fine and you still see changes in your body--go to your doctor."