Mum’s Christmas weight gain was actually a tumour the ‘size of a newborn baby’

A mum who thought she was just struggling to shift her Christmas weight discovered she had a cancerous tumour the size of a newborn baby.

Sue Benson couldn’t understand why she wasn’t seeing the pounds drop off after going on a crash New Year diet.

The 60-year-old, who works for North West Ambulance Service, decided to see the doctor to try and get to the bottom of it.

After being referred, Sue, from St Helens, Merseyside, was stunned to hear a tumour was growing, and she was diagnosed with retroperitoneal sarcoma.

The rare cancer can affect bone or soft tissue and the mum-of-two said the tumour was “the size of a new born baby” in length.

She said: “In 2019 just after Christmas, I wondered why my trousers were still feeling tight. When you know you have that Christmas excess baggage, mine wasn’t going away and it was the end of January.

“I’d been eating really well and healthy and I couldn’t figure out why. I was feeling something in my tummy, something that felt like a sort of cyst.

“The more I touched it the more I could feel it and sort of wobble it between my fingers. That was how I first noticed it and I went to the GP. It felt like small orange.

“I saw my GP by the beginning of February and they couldn’t find what it was, it was very strange and they couldn’t quite understand what it was or who to refer me to.”

Referred to Liverpool Royal Hospital, she stood up and the doctor saw her “belly button and everything shifted to the right” instead of aligned at the centre.

Following an MRI scan, the parent was then referred to a specialist, who identified the “cyst” as a tumour and diagnosed Sue with sarcoma.

Sue said: “It was 30cm sort of growing up from my groin area right the way up my left hand side and it was sitting right below my ribcage there.

“The tube to that kidney was wrapped around it and they thought it might be stuck to my bowels but it wasn’t.

“It was sort of the size of a new born baby as in length. Width wise it was about 5cm to 10 cm wide and it weighed just over three kilograms. A smaller one had started to grow behind it but they managed to get it all the way.

“It’s quite a fast growing one. At first that worried me but they said it doesn’t mean to say it’s a rapid cancer.”

The surgery resulted in all the tumour being removed and Sue did not need chemotherapy, but she did have to have physiotherapy to help enable her to walk again.

After months of work, Sue went from using crutches and a walking frame to only needing a stick to help her walk.

Two years on, she can walk without a stick and challenges herself to walk up steep inclines.

She said she can achieve up to 15,000 steps in a day and is about to embark on her latest challenge.

Sue said: “It’s not an excuse to not be able to do something. It’s a diagnosis. It’s up to you how you respond.

“It’s just about thinking positive everyday. I’m lucky to be here, it could have been far worse. I can get about and I’m one of those people who tries to push myself.”

After climbing Rivington Pike and The Old Pale at Delamere Forest with her two friends and their dogs, this month, the team will tackle Moel Famou in North Wales to raise money for Sarcoma UK and Cancer Research.

She adds: “I love life and being out and I take my dog out every day and I just think each day is a new opportunity. I just think I’m lucky, I’ve got a great family and very supportive friends and a network around me and I’ve always been that type of person to give back.”