For months, Hector Hernandez, 47, did not understand why his stomach had become so big.
"I just thought I was fat," he said. "I've always been a big guy."
It would have been a year and a half before he discovered that his big belly was actually a 25 kg tumor. In the meantime, he watched as he grew up and grew up.
When he took the Los Angeles subway to work every morning, people watched him.
"I wore big jackets to hide, but it was very visible," he said in an interview Wednesday.
And when he sat down at his desk, where he was billing an information technology company, "my stomach was just between my legs," he said.
Some have assumed that he liked beer too much.
One day, a man approached him at a Circle K convenience store near Mr. Hernandez's home in Downey, California.
"And I just laughed and said," You know what, I do not drink, "he says.
He does not eat too much either, but Hernandez tried an herbal diet, hoping it would make a difference.
This is not the case.
His stomach was growing so big that he looked like a "beach ball" and he could not bend over to tie his laces.
But as her stomach continued to expand, the rest of her body became thinner.
Worried about his appearance, in 2016 he went to see a doctor, who told him that some people "only weighed differently". He asked for a second opinion the following year and was finally referred to Dr. William Tseng, surgical oncologist at Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California.
The tests revealed that Mr Hernandez had a liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer that originated in fat cells and developed into a large tumor in the abdomen.
Although the tumor itself was not painful, Mr. Hernandez suffered from high blood pressure and suffered from constant shortness of breath, constipation and heartburn, all of which can now be attributed to sarcoma.
"I was a little shocked," he said.
During a six-hour operation in July, Dr. Tseng removed the tumor, which weighed 77 pounds.
"It's the biggest I've ever seen," said Dr. Tseng, one of the few doctors in the United States specializing in the elimination of large soft tissue sarcomas. In general, he added, tumors of this type weigh 20 to 30 pounds.
Fortunately, the "slow-growing giant beast" did not spread to other parts of Hernandez's body, said Dr. Tseng, but the surgical team had to remove one of his kidneys.
"The tumor swallowed it, basically," Hernandez said of the kidney. "It was not working anymore."
Doctors do not know why such sarcomas are formed or how to stop them.
"We have nothing to stop it at this point," said Dr. Tseng.
Unfortunately, Dr. Hernandez learned that liposarcoma was very likely to return.
And if that happens, the cancer could become more aggressive. The only way to do more surgeries, said Dr. Tseng, added that he hoped that this type of illness – although unusual – was subject to further research.
"We desperately need something better than surgery," he said.
Mr. Hernandez will undergo a scan every four months to monitor his condition. He now faces thousands of dollars in medical bills and requests donations via GoFundMe.
Since surgery, his symptoms have disappeared and he has found about 90% of his normalcy rate.
"Oh my God, I feel good," he said, adding, "I think I just need to develop my strength."