A New Jersey man was so bothered by his growing gut -- something friends, family and even doctors dismissed as a natural "beer belly" -- that he persisted in getting it checked out, and eventually made the shocking discovery of what was actually in his stomach.
Kevin Daly, a 63-year-old financial planner, underwent open heart surgery in December 2015 and then noticed that his stomach was protruding out of proportion to his normally fit physique, according to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he'd later undergo surgery.
He was told repeatedly it was simply visceral fat, a normal part of aging, but Daly still felt something wasn't right.
Responding to Daly's concerns about his belly, his cardiologist, Dr. Varinder Singh, advised him to lose weight. Despite Daly shedding 34 pounds in about six months, his large belly stuck around.
"He did everything that was prescribed," Singh said on a recent appearance on Megyn Kelly TODAY along with Daly. "He exercised, he went on a diet, and he lost a lot of weight."
"When he came to me and he said, 'Doc, there's something going on here,' I actually told him, 'Kevin, it's probably visceral fat,'" said Singh. "But ... He knew. And patients know their bodies better than anybody. And as medical professionals, we have to listen to them within reason."
Recognizing that Daly had taken his advice on shedding weight and was still worried, Singh ordered a CAT scan, though Daly's insurance company initially did not want to pay for it because it did not see a valid reason for the procedure.
But when the scan was finally taken, doctors were shocked to find a huge tumor taking up the majority of space in Daly's abdomen. They estimated it was about 12 pounds and quickly scheduled him for surgery in December 2017.
Doctors were shocked again when they opened him up. The surgeons found a much bigger and more complex tumor than they'd expected: a 30-pound mass wrapped around one of his kidneys.
His chief surgeon, Dr. Julio Teixeira, said it was the largest mass he has ever removed, and it took two residents to hold up the tumor in surgery while Teixeira cut off the blood supply.
Doctors also had to remove the kidney entangled in the mass.
The surgery was successful, and three months later, Daly is down to 178 pounds and has his flat stomach back. He wanted to share his story to show how important it is for people to be their own health advocates.
He told Kelly that he looks at the photo of his tumor every day because he's still shocked and wonders how it grew inside him.
Daly is still being monitored and will continue to be monitored for the next 10 years or so, since the recurrence of these types of tumors are high. His organs displaced by the tumor have now returned to their proper positions.