(NEW YORK) — Kayley Reese first noticed what seemed like a growing bump in her stomach over a year ago.
“The reason I really noticed it was because I own a clothing store and am in all the photos and it got to a point where I could see it in every single photo,” Reese, of Richmond, Virginia, told Good Morning America. “It looked like I was pregnant.”
Reese, 23, said she did not notice any other physical symptoms, so she did not do anything about it.
“On social media I would see some things like it’s your uterus protruding or everyone has it, it’s a protective layer,” she said. “So I kind of made it normal in my head.”
It was not until June when Reese flew home to Orlando, Florida, that she began to feel symptoms and sought treatment.
“I was nauseous and dizzy and my appetite wasn’t normal and I had shortness of breath, painful urination, all that,” said Reese. “My mom asked to feel the spot that I was complaining about and said, ‘That is not normal.'”
Reese went to a local emergency department, where she underwent testing that found a large cyst near her left ovary.
“The [doctors] weren’t sure how long it had been there but they said the symptoms I was having were from that,” she said. “At 23, I had no idea this could ever happen to me.”
Reese underwent a two-hour surgery to remove the cyst, which she said was eight inches in length, seven pounds in weight and was filled with two liters of fluid.
The cyst was diagnosed as a paratubal, or paraovarian cyst, a type of cyst that forms near an ovary or fallopian tube but does not adhere to an internal organ, like an ovary.
“It was the best possible case scenario because they were able to save both my ovaries,” she said. “When I went into surgery they said they were likely going to have to take out an ovary and my fallopian tube.”
While she was recovering, Reese said she saw a video on TikTok that prompted her to share her own story publicly.
“I saw someone else’s TikTok about having something similar and all the comments on her video were like, ‘That’s normal. Everyone has it,'” said Reese. “I thought this was exactly why I didn’t think much of my own [stomach bump].”
Reese posted a now-viral video sharing her own story, explaining, “I feel like if I had seen my own TikTok, I would have gone to the doctor a lot earlier.”
She said she was overwhelmed by the response, both from women thanking her for the information and women who also had paratubal cysts.
“When it started to get picked up I was very nervous because I’m like I’m not a doctor, but I saw that it brought awareness to a lot of women,” said Reese. “I got messages from women who had the same situation and they said was the first time they heard anyone even talk about it, so it was super emotional.”
The type of paratubal cyst Reese had differs from the more well-known ovarian cyst because a paratubal cyst does not attach to the ovary or fallopian tube.
While most paratubal cysts do not cause symptoms, some develop and become extremely large before causing symptoms including abdominal pain, frequent urination and feelings of fullness in the abdomen.
Problematic cysts can be removed through surgery.
Women with frequent or painful cysts, including paratubal cysts or ovarian cysts, may be advised by their doctor to take over-the-counter pain medication or hormonal birth control, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.
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