The First Signs
When Keely first noticed her belly was getting bigger, she thought she was pregnant. So she did what any young woman would do and took some over-the-counter pregnancy tests.
But when the test continued to come back negative, she grew more concerned as to why her belly was growing.
Hailing from Swansea, Wales, Keely was a relatively healthy woman until about 2014. That year, she began to gain weight.
While she told BBC that she had never really considered herself “skinny,” she had never experienced her stomach being that large. After a few years of continually gaining weight, she perpetually looked pregnant.
A Gut Feeling
Keely had grown to a size 8, which was larger than she had ever been in her life. She had a gut feeling about what might be going on, but she didn’t want to believe it was true.
At this point, she knew she had to face the facts about her condition — and she had no idea that it would be worse than what she imagined.
Keely Tells Her Boyfriend
Keely and her boyfriend, Jamie Gibbons, had been together for a decade. She told him that there was a possibility she was pregnant, and that a baby could be causing her stomach to grow.
Even though they were both scared of being parents, they needed to know what was happening so they could prepare.
Who Could She Believe?
Even though the tests were negative and the doctor said she was fine, Keely believed she was with child. It was the only thing that made sense in her mind.
She had trusted medical professionals her entire life. Her dad was even a doctor. But still, her gut was telling her that something wasn’t right.
Outgrowing A Pregnancy
If Keely was right, and she was pregnant, then everything would go away once the baby was born. Right?
So she became increasingly more concerned when her tummy grew larger and larger over the next few years rather than simply 9 months. One day, her illness caught up to her while she was at work.
The Questions Kept Coming
When people asked her if she was pregnant, Keely would tell them no and that she had just gained some weight.
Still, she was becoming more fed up with the situation—and her stomach—every day. It was an exhausting situation that continuously became increasingly concerning.
Boy Or Girl?
Friends, strangers and co-workers would always ask Keely about her “baby.” They wanted to know the gender and when it was due.
She told them that she wasn’t pregnant and tried to spare their feelings by blaming it all on weight gain. She said it so much that she was starting to believe it herself.
In 2016, Keely decided to get all new clothes. At that time, she said her stomach was huge, but her legs and upper body were the same size they had always been.
Because her proportions were similar to that of a pregnant woman, she could only find things that fit her in the maternity section.
Keely had more than one fainting spell at work. Eventually, she had trouble breathing and constantly felt sick.
It reached a point where she could no longer trust the doctors that said nothing was wrong. She needed specialized medical opinions. Something was clearly not right.
A Push From Loved Ones
Her loved ones and co-workers were all concerned. They told her she needed to take better care of herself and seek the advice of a specialist.
They wondered why she waited so long, and Keely told them that other doctors made her feel like nothing was wrong. But by this point, it was clear something was.
Another Fainting Incident
Finally, Keely decided to seek help after she fainted for a fourth time at work. She set up an appointment with a local specialist.
After the doctor examined her, he told her that her acne medication was causing her to pass out and feel constantly fatigued. But Keely had a gut feeling that he was wrong and that it wasn’t that simple.
Enough Is Enough
It took a few years, but Keely finally realized that the doctors she had seen were not taking her health seriously. She could barely walk or breathe normally, and something had to change.
She was ready to take control of the situation and get the help—and answers—she needed.
Though it didn’t give the doctor an exact answer, he said the test found something else growing in Keely’s belly.
It could be something as benign as a cyst or something more severe like a tumor or an abnormality on her uterus. Even though she was closer to the truth, there were still so many questions.
A Final Diagnosis
The CT scan had confirmed that Keely’s growing stomach was caused by a massive lump in her ovaries. The doctors had no idea what stage the lump was at or if it could be fatal.
Upon hearing this news, Keely felt her world fall apart. She wanted answers, but she never thought this would be the one she would get.
The Root Of All Her Problems
The weight gain, the fatigue, the fainting—the specialist confirmed that all of it was caused by the cyst.
Even though Keely felt validated that those other doctors were wrong, she was scared to learn that the specialists couldn’t be sure how much damage was done after years of having it grow.
Some Good News
Thankfully, the specialist was able to tell her that he would only have to remove one ovary instead of two. That meant there was still a possibility that she could have a child one day.
Still, he wasn’t sure how long she would need to stay in the hospital after surgery. Keely was told to prepare for the long haul.
Telling Her Family
Keely’s mom lived in Australia, and wasn’t fully aware of what was going on. Keely had told her of some of the problems, but didn’t want her to worry.
Now that she had answers, she knew her family needed to be aware of the entire situation. Plus, she wanted them by her side.
Calling the Family
After telling her mom the news, she flew in from Australia just in time for the operation. Her dad had to stay at home, but told her that she could call him any time, even despite the large time difference.
With her support team in place, Keely finally felt ready for the operation.
A Successful Operation
The specialist had originally told Keely’s family that surgery would last an hour — but now five hours had passed and they were growing concerned.
Finally, the doctor emerged from the operating room and told them that he was able to remove the mass. Keely would be okay.
Waiting For Keely To Wake Up
Keely and her family were terrified of what could happen during the surgery. With so many unanswered questions, the anxiety built up while they were waiting for her to come out of the operation room.
Now, they were all crowding around her just waiting for her to wake up and feel normal again.
A Permanent Reminder
The surgery left Keely with a very large scar that will always remind her of what happened. It’s 30 centimeters long and runs from her breast bone down to her pubic bone.
Despite this, she was able to get out of her hospital bed pretty soon after her operation and walk around.
Sharing Her Story
In the year following her surgery, Keely began to regain confidence in her body. So much so that she has started sharing her story with the masses.
It’s her hope that anyone going through something similar will find solace and inspiration in her tale. It’s all about knowing yourself and your body and ensuring the doctors and specialists take your concerns seriously when you know something isn’t right.