Many individuals silently bear burdens we may never comprehend. Their struggles remain veiled, hidden beneath the surface, unspoken.

Among them is 20-year-old Allison Fisher, who harbors one such untold tale. Fortunately, amidst her silent ordeal, she found solace and, as she describes it, a ‘second chance’ at life.

In the year 2020, Allison Fisher’s journey took an unexpected turn as she grappled with what initially seemed like mere stomach discomfort. Yet, this discomfort persisted relentlessly, accompanied by irregularities in her menstrual cycle. Astonishingly, Allison found herself enduring a year-long menstrual cycle – a plight she endured in silence.

Acknowledging her reluctance towards medical intervention, Allison confessed her aversion to doctor visits, fearing the inevitable scrutiny her weight would attract. “I convinced myself that ignoring it would make it disappear,” she confided in an interview, her underlying fear palpable. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic only heightened her apprehension, further dissuading her from seeking the medical attention she desperately needed.

She elaborated on her reluctance to seek medical assistance, reflecting on her upbringing, “[Growing up,] regardless of what I was there for—whether it was a cold or an ear infection, I was always told, ‘you need to lose weight. You need to lose weight,’” she recounted. “If no one’s going to listen to me, if they’re always gonna tell me I need to lose weight, then what’s the point of going? What’s the point of listening to my body?”

Fisher’s ordeal escalated as she noticed a protruding mass on her abdomen. Gradually, her once-pliable stomach hardened to the touch, rendering even the simplest tasks unbearable. Standing for more than a fleeting five minutes became a Herculean feat, and the notion of operating a vehicle became an insurmountable challenge due to the substantial enlargement of her midsection. Trapped by her condition, Fisher found herself confined, unable to venture beyond the confines of her own suffering.

“As I looked closer at it, I realized that it was rock hard. I couldn’t lay on it,” recounted the 20-year-old, reflecting on her harrowing experience.

“I felt like I was pregnant with 10 kids,” she articulated “I couldn’t lay on my stomach. It felt like all my organs were being crushed.”

The 20-year-old eventually yielded to her mounting discomfort and sought medical attention when the mass began impeding her ability to breathe, just around the Christmas season of 2022. Additionally, her mother’s battle with cancer in 2021 served as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life, instilling in her a newfound urgency to address her own health concerns promptly.

Upon consulting with Dr. Martin Martino, a gynecologic oncology surgeon at Ascension St. Vincent’s, the young woman received the startling revelation: a colossal 104-lb. ovarian cyst had taken root within her, containing an astonishing 46 liters of fluid. The only recourse, she was informed, lay in surgical intervention.

Given the complexities posed by the cyst, Dr. Martino enlisted the expertise of pulmonary and cardiology specialists to ensure comprehensive care.“We came together and said, ‘Let’s figure out a way to remove this,’” Dr. Martino recounted. Physician assistant Nicole Antenucci echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the collaborative effort required for the procedure, which harnessed cutting-edge robotic technology. “It truly took a team,” she affirmed.

Antenucci expressed profound gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to Fisher’s journey and aid her in reclaiming her health.“We all just felt so lucky to be able to be a part of it and help her and now be part of her journey moving forward,” she remarked.

Dr. Martino recounted his initial encounter with Fisher vividly. “When we met in the emergency room, she was short of breath,” he recalled “It was right before Christmas. [While she was] lying on her side, I said, ‘Now’s the time, let’s do this.’”

Reflecting on Fisher’s case, Dr. Martino highlighted a significant revelation post-surgery. “What was really interesting in [Fisher’s] case is that once we removed it, we looked at the other ovary because now we could see it, and the left ovary was twisted three times,” he disclosed to the media.

With a focus on minimizing further harm, the medical team swiftly took action. Dr. Martino elaborated, “That [the left ovary] was about 10 centimeters that really helped us to be able to untwist it and save [Fisher’s] future fertility, and the chance to have kids.”

Following the successful surgery that rid her of the colossal cyst, the 20-year-old embraced a renewed sense of vitality. Describing the experience as a “second chance” at life, Fisher expressed gratitude for the opportunity to embark on a fresh chapter.

With her newfound lease on life, Fisher joyfully exclaimed, “I can see my feet again, I haven’t been able to do that in years. I can stand a little bit longer. I feel so much lighter, I feel like a person,” she expressed, radiating a sense of liberation and gratitude for the transformation she had undergone.

It’s truly chilling to contemplate the weeks, months, and possibly even years Fisher endured this ordeal in silence, all stemming from the fear of judgment regarding her weight by medical professionals. Sadly, her experience resonates with many who harbor apprehensions about seeking medical assistance due to the pervasive stigma surrounding weight and health.

Countless individuals shy away from consulting healthcare providers, fearing that their weight will unjustly shoulder the blame for their health struggles. This apprehension not only prolongs suffering but also deprives individuals of the timely care and support they desperately need. It underscores the critical need for healthcare systems to cultivate environments of empathy, understanding, and inclusivity, ensuring that all individuals feel empowered to prioritize their health without fear of judgment or prejudice.

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