'Doctors told me to lose weight – but I was living with a 6st ovarian cyst'

Paisley Dylan lost three stone in hopes it would shrink her stomach because every time she left the house people stared and asked if she was pregnant and expecting triplets.

At one point, Paisley Dylan’s stomach was so large, that a stranger asked her if she was expecting triplets.

Every time Paisley Dylan left the house, she was conscious of people staring at her stomach.

Strangers regularly assumed she was pregnant – with one woman assuming she was expecting triplets – and she struggled to tie her shoelaces.

But despite losing 3st in a bid to shrink her stomach, the large bulge remained.

It was only after seven years of misdiagnosis, that a scan revealed Paisley had a six and a half stone ovarian cyst, filled with 42 litres of fluid.

Paisley said: ‘I have always had problems with my period, whenever I would go to the GP for that I was always told to lose weight, that will help.

‘When my stomach started getting bigger, I blamed it on that.

‘Every time I left the house people were looking at me.

‘People would come up to me and say: “When are you due?”.

‘It was embarrassing for me, it was embarrassing for them, it was all around an awkward situation.’

Paisley first visited a GP after her stomach began feeling solid. She was told to lose weight, but when she did, nothing changed.

But during the first lockdown, Paisley, from Cwmbran, South Wales, went to stay with her parents Anglesey. There, she went to the GP again, to see if there was something more sinister going on.

‘They made me lie down on my back and they pressed on my stomach and they said it was just weight, and that it would take a while to come off my stomach,’ she said.

More misdiagnoses followed. In February 2021, Paisley was told she has diastasis recti – when your abdominal muscles separate, which usually happens during pregnancy. It usually causes a visible bulge just above or below the belly button.

She tried to exercise and did indeed lose weight following this. She even sought help from a counsellor for binge eating, but after a couple of sessions, she realised that it wasn’t the problem. She also sought help from a lifestyle coach which helped her get more active, with Paisley completing 15,000 steps each day.

‘My parents were worried and fortunately we were in a position to go private for a scan. When I first walked into the clinic, the doctor said straight away: “That is not just weight”.

‘My stomach was so big it would not go in the machine properly. The scan showed two cysts, one bigger one and a smaller one. But they said the scan was compromised so they couldn’t see the accurate size.’

The scan in October confirmed Paisley’s concerns. She underwent an operation to drain the cysts in April 2023.

‘It was a relief that it was not just weight and it could be fixed, but then I was worried about why it got so big. They said they were going to do the operation through key hole, and told me it would only take two to three hours, but it took seven.’

Now Paisley is thrilled to be living pain free.

She said: ‘Now, I am not in pain all the time. I did have symptoms, I just didn’t know. I was saying to my family: “I can’t believe that everyone finds life this easy.”

‘After the operation I was still coming around, and I remember my parents being there and I looked around, I was like: “I can see my feet!”

‘I don’t feel like everyone is staring at me. It is much better than I thought it would be.’

Paisley has dropped five dress sizes after the operation, previously she would wear clothes around a size 28 or 30, but she recently purchased a pair of jeans in a size 20, the first pair she has owned for years.

Paisley admitted she doesn’t know whether she feels anger or frustration at how difficult it was for her to get a diagnosis. In a bid to raise awareness, she is sharing her journey through an Instagram page.

She said: ‘There’s going to be people with the same issue, and they are going to the GP to be told the same thing. A lot of people won’t be able to afford to go private.

‘I’m sharing my story to get people to realise that you have to push if you feel like something is not right.’

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