Infant-sized tumors shock Des Allemands woman, doctors

After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Vanessa Bell of Des Allemands didn’t foresee herself dealing with another serious medical condition. That was, however, until mid 2008 when two infant-sized masses were discovered in her abdomen.

“I never had much trouble with heartburn, but it became more frequent and progressed into abdominal pain,” Bell said. “I also began experiencing weight gain, nausea, bleeding and it felt like my food would get stuck in my throat when I ate.

“I was also dealing with fibromyalgia, but this fatigue felt much worse.”

Bell decided to make an appointment with her physician and several gastrointestinal or GI tests were administered.

“I was told that I had a hiatal hernia and acid reflux,” Bell said. “My doctor recommended that I take Prilosec and said that I would be OK.”

Two months later, the symptoms continued to persist, prompting Bell to make an appointment with a new gynecologist.

“My new doctor ran tests for ovarian cancer, pregnancy and ordered an ultrasound, which showed that I had abdominal masses,” she said. “One was the size of a basketball.”

The following day, a CT scan was performed that exposed the two masses, both of which were connected to Bell’s ovaries.

“It was scary at the time not knowing what I was dealing with,” she said. “I had lost a cousin the same age as me to stomach cancer, so I was worried.”

Four weeks later, an oncologist assisted with surgery to remove the masses, the larger one having grown another 2.5 centimeters.

“The surgeons had to make an incision the length of my abdomen to remove the masses,” Bell said. “That was pretty painful and I was back in the emergency room two weeks later because I was so sick. I couldn’t eat anything and I had lost 25 pounds.”

As a result of the growing masses, all of Bell’s organs that were pushed aside to make room for the invading large tumors were still adjusting to their normal post-surgery positions.
“Thankfully, the tumors turned out to be benign ovarian cysts,” Bell said. “A lot of women get ovarian cysts and they usually just go away or are detected before they grow too large.

“But in my case, one was 15 pounds and the other was the size of a basketball.”

Biopsies performed in February showed a few abnormalities, but no cancer.

“I’m still not 100 percent, but it could be a lot worse,” Bell said. “I’m thankful everyday for the things that don’t happen and for my family and friends who prayed for me and supported me.”


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