A woman who was so plump she looked 20 weeks pregnant, discovered she had a cancerous ovarian cyst that had grown hair and skin.
Victoria Grande, 29, suffered from abdominal pain for 10 years before a CT scan revealed an 11cm cyst on her right ovary in April 2022 – which had been growing for 28 years.
She was told that the cystic teratoma – a type of germ cell tumor – was causing hair and skin growth and that she needed surgery to remove the cyst and stop it growing.
Victoria had the operation a week later and tests on the cyst showed it was cancerous.
Doctors had to open her up again and discovered 100 tumors growing inside her – Victoria was diagnosed with growing teratoma syndrome – a rare complication of teratoma.
Victoria had a 10-hour operation in June 2022 to remove the tumors as well as two pieces of her lung, right fallopian tube, right ovary, gallbladder and appendix – which showed signs of cancer.
Victoria then began six rounds of chemotherapy, which caused her to lose her hair, but it has now been reported that there is no evidence of the disease.
Despite everything, Victoria remains positive and decided to dye her shaved hair pink in February 2023 – and decorated it with blonde hearts and a small cancer ribbon on the back of her head.
Victoria, a barmaid, from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, said: “My stomach was so big I looked pregnant.
“After my CT they told me it was an 11cm cyst. They told me he had hair and skin. It was crazy to me.
“It had been growing for 28 years but so slowly it was hard to detect.
“The teratoma syndrome is so rare that the Facebook group I found only had six people.
“I love my bald head. I wanted to turn it into something fun and my favorite color is pink.
“I love it.”
Victoria had struggled with abdominal pain all her life and was used to suffering from urinary tract infections at least once a month.
Doctors would put her pain down to constipation, but Victoria’s symptoms worsened in March 2022 and left her “wracked with pain”.
She ended up in the emergency room and was taken for a CT scan which revealed an 11cm cyst on her right ovary in April 2022.
Victoria said: “They told me it was probably wrapping around my ovary and cutting off my blood supply.
“They said it would keep growing if I didn’t have an operation to get it out.
“The cyst was so big that it was pushing my organs up and it was like I was 20 weeks pregnant in my body.”
Victoria underwent keyhole surgery to cut up and remove the cyst in April 2022.
She said: “It was a painful recovery because all my organs were going back into place.”
The cyst was biopsied and the results came back positive for cancer.
Victoria said: “I saw it on my health app and said to my fiancé, Austin Cureton, 32 – ‘I think I have cancer.’
“Obviously the cyst grew the skin that developed cancer and now it could be inside me.”
She was told she needed an operation to see if the cancer had spread to other areas of her body and doctors were shocked to find 100 tumors growing when they opened her up.
Victoria said: “They locked me back up and told me what they found.
“They said they’d have to take out everything he’s got.”
She underwent a 10-hour operation in June 2022 to remove the tumors and 42 stitches were inserted.
A month later Victoria started chemotherapy, which she finished in October 2022 after six rounds.
She is now on medication and has a CT scan every 13 months to check that the cancer has not returned.
Victoria said: “I never told people I had cancer but I said I was suffering from it. Being positive saved my life.”
At the start of chemotherapy Victoria had tried cold caps in an attempt to keep hair but now she loves her shaved head.
She said: “I always said I wanted to shave my head once in my life.
“I don’t think I would have ever really done it.
“I thought this is my only chance.
“I like being bald now.”
In February 2023, Victoria decided to dye her hair pink, enlisting the help of hair stylist Ethan Matthew.
She said: “This hairstyle has really helped me to keep my confidence and positive attitude towards it all.”
Victoria hopes to be able to travel as much as she can in the next few years and tries to keep her life as normal as possible.