Grandmother with 140-pound Tumor is Half Her Size After Life-Saving Surgery
Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) doctors remove tumor ‘unlike they’ve ever seen’ and put woman on road to a healthy, fulfilling retirement
Warning: Photo gallery (below) contains unedited images of a surgery, which may be considered graphic in nature.
When Mary Clancey first noticed she was “getting a little plump,” as she calls it, she thought it was perhaps from her time working the fudge counter at her local Boscov's Department Store in Pottsville, Pa. She would soon realize the situation was far more serious, resulting in a miraculous five-hour operation to remove a 140-pound cancerous tumor from her abdomen.
Today, thanks to the quick actions and innovative thinking of Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) doctors, Clancey is able to share her incredible story.
“Things started getting harder to do – harder to walk, harder to stand – and then one day I couldn't get out of bed,” the 71-year-old grandmother said. “My son said, ‘Let’s call an ambulance and take you out of here.’”
A computed tomography (CT) scan revealed the astonishing diagnosis – a cyst in one of her ovaries had grown into a 140-pound, stage-one-cancer tumor, equal to almost half her weight. Clancey was 365 pounds in total at the time. She jokes that she felt that she was just becoming “one of those little, ‘roly poly’ ladies.” But she was in for a huge surprise.
“The results of Mary’s CT scan are permanently engrained in my mind,” says surgeon Richard Boulay, MD, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at LVHN, who performed Clancey’s operation. “The mass was so big it didn't even fit in the picture of the scanner – I had never seen anything like it.”
The surgery had to be carefully orchestrated by Boulay and his team to account for the sheer logistics of removing a mass that large from Clancey’s body. He was assisted by Randolph Wojcik Jr., MD, Chief of Plastic Surgery, and plastic surgeon with LVPG Plastic Surgery. In five hours, Mary lost 180 pounds of tumor and tissue – literally half of her body weight.
After recovering under the close watch of LVHN’s care team for 26 days following the procedure, Clancey is a more petite 147 pounds today. But her personality is still larger than life.
“I was going to be a short, fat, round little old lady before, so you never know, I might just turn into a voluptuous babe now,” she says.
For Boulay and the team at LVHN who witnessed Clancey’s incredible story firsthand,
the real reward is seeing her happy, healthy and on the road to a fulfilling retirement.
“When someone like Mary grabs your hands a couple of days later and says, ‘Thank you for giving me my life back,’ it doesn't get any better than that,” Boulay says.
Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses - three in Allentown including the region's only facility dedicated to orthopedic surgery, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; 26 health centers caring for communities in seven counties; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices and 18 ExpressCARE locations throughout the region including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE at the Health Center at Palmer Township; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; extensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes: trauma care at the region’s busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, orthopedics, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute and the Lehigh Valley Institute for Special Surgery give clinicians of the highest caliber the necessary infrastructure, programs and partnerships to help community members stay healthy and provide the most advanced treatment when needed. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a formal member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, a transformative initiative to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people with cancer in community health care settings, including access to key MSK clinical trials. Robotic surgery is offered in ten specialties across the health network with more than 10,000 procedures performed since 2007. Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital and Level 4 NICU in the region, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest has been recognized among the top five hospitals in Pennsylvania by U.S. News & World Report for for five consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are national Magnet hospitals for excellence in nursing. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on Facebook and Twitter.