An Oregon teenager is recovering in the hospital after doctors removed a nearly 25-pound tumor from his abdomen.
Kristion Kim, 15, from Tualatin, began rapidly losing weight over the summer - which led doctors to believe he had an eating disorder.
However, his stomach was hard and bulging a bit. His pediatrician thought it was constipation, but suggested to Kristion's mom, Staci, that she could get an X-ray and ultrasound done to rule it out.
After a few days of scans and tests, Kristion was diagnosed with a very rare cancer that arises in the fat cells, reported KOIN 6 News.
Kristion learned an extremely large tumor had been constricting his stomach and bowels to such an extent that he hadn't been able to keep any food down.
Between the beginning of the summer and the end of January 2019, Kristion lost about 40 pounds.
'I saw him bending down and I could see his ribs showing...from his back,' his mother, Staci, told KOIN.
Staci took her son to countless appointments with his pediatrician. But the doctor believed that Kristion was purposely losing weight.
She was allegedly ready to refer the teenager to a psychiatrist, believing that he had an eating disorder.
But Staci wasn't convinced. Even though Kristion was losing weight, he had a stomach bulge.
'One of the times I saw his stomach, his stomach was bulging out,' she told KOIN.
'That bulge is not normal. I said: "I want to see a [gastroenterologist]. I want more tests." I said: "Something needs to be done now!"'
The pediatrician told Kristion to lay on the exam table and felt his stomach. It was hard, but she just assumed he was constipation and sent the family home with gas and laxatives.
Staci said she wanted to see a GI and more scans, and the pediatrician suggested the family could get an X-ray or an ultrasound to rule out constipation.
Technicians told Staci that she could get an appointment in a few weeks, but she demanded for one the very next day, which she got.
Kristion had the ultrasound, which was quickly followed by an emergency CT scan that showed a mass was enveloping his entire stomach.
Oncologists were not sure what cancer the teen had, but told Staci that the tumor has shuffled around the organs in his abdomen.
A few days later, Kristion was diagnosed with liposarcoma.
Liposarcoma is a rare tumor that begins in the fat cells, mostly in the limbs or the abdomen.
Symptoms can include abdominal pain and swelling, feeling full sooner after eating, constipation and bloody stool.
Doctors are unsure of what causes liposarcoma, but know the tumor forms when fat cells have mutations that cause them to multiply quickly.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, about 2,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US.
Treatment usually involves surgery first to remove the tumor. If it cannot completely be removed, then patients undergo radiation therapy to kill remaining cancer cells.
On February 26, doctors removed a nearly 25-pound tumor from Kristion's abdomen.
According to a GoFundMe page, doctors were shocked that the tumor wasn't attached to any organs or blood vessels.
Kristion told KOIN that when he first saw a picture of his tumor, he was 'kind of disgusted' and said it was similar to 'having a monster in your body at all times.'
Because surgeons successfully removed the entire tumor, Staci says that her son won't need radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
However, he will need to undergo scans for the 10 years, with one occurring every three to four months for the next three years in case of recurrence.
The family hopes to take Kristion home soon, but the teenager has been suffering complication since the surgery.
The tumor had been constricting his stomach and bowels to such an extent that he's been struggling to keep food down and may need a feeding tube.
Staci says the experience has taught her how important it is to be an advocate if you feel like your concerns aren't being taken seriously.
'If you feel like something is wrong, you need to speak up,' she told KOIN.
'Speak up for yourself, speak up for your child, speak up for your mother, father, if you're taking care of them. You need to be that person's advocate.'
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of medical expenses.
So far, more than $3,700 has been raised out of a $5,000 goal.
Source: The Daily Mail