Hector Hernandez, from Downey, California, had an oversized gut that many middle-aged men can’t seem to shake.
It seemed every extra pound went straight to his belly, a frustration that Hernandez shrugged off at first.
But Hernandez, 47, soon became concerned when he noticed his stomach felt rock-hard and increasingly heavy.
“I just thought I was fat,” Hernandez told The Washington Post, adding that he weighed around 300 pounds at the time.
When Hernandez told a physician about the problem, the doctor was dismissive, saying that everyone carries their weight differently.
But Hernandez got a second opinion when he noticed additional changes in his body that he found concerning.
“I was losing weight on my arms, face, everywhere but my stomach,” Hernandez told INSIDER. “And I was diabetic and had high blood pressure too.”
It’s a good thing Hernandez sought another opinion, because it turned out that he was carrying a massive 77-pound cancerous tumor inside his stomach.
Hernandez was diagnosed with a retroperitoneal liposarcoma, a type of cancer that forms within a person’s existing fat cells.
According to the Mayo Clinic, several symptoms are associated with liposarcomas aside from being unable to lose weight around the belly: abdominal pain, feeling full sooner than usual when eating, constipation and blood in the stool.
Hernandez endured a six-hour surgery to remove the massive tumor.
His surgeon, Dr. William Tseng, also had to remove one of Hernandez’s kidneys which had been damaged by the oppressive tumor.
Hernandez was incredibly relieved as a burden was literally lifted off his body, noting that he’s had improved energy.
As his body began to heal, Hernandez was surprised with the life-changing news that his diabetes had also disappeared.
“Looking back, I wish I would’ve went sooner,” Hernandez told INSIDER.
Through it all, Hernandez is thankful for the friends and family who have rallied around him during the journey.
It was at their urging that he sought medical care in the first place, and they continue to support him to this day.
His friends have also initiated a GoFundMe fundraising page to help offset the surgical and follow-up costs.
“I had a lot of support and prayers from family and friends,” Hernandez said.
“I finally left it in God’s hands.”
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