Published: 06:00, 07 November 2019
| Updated: 06:41, 07 November 2019
A mum discovered she had a growth the size of a football which had sprouted clumps of hair in her stomach.
The horror was revealed when Strood mum Emma Corcoran eventually went for a scan.
KMTV talk to Emma about her ordeal
She says she was told by medical staff more than 100 times that she was suffering from anxiety attacks over a 16-month period.
The dermoid cyst was so big that it was pressing on organs, causing her crippling pain and unable to stand up straight or walk.
Now Emma, 43, is pleading for other women to be aware of these cysts which can contain teeth, sweat glands and nerves as well as hair follicles.
Before the grim discovery Emma, who lives in Wainscott, had never heard of the condition and is keen to make other women aware of what could be growing inside their bodies - and insist on the right treatment.
Emma - mum to Liberty, 16, - could not hold down solid food for a year and her weight plummeted from 15 stone to eight stone.
She was also forced to give up her job, working at the Omega watch shop in Bluewater, and spent months sleeping downstairs on the sofa.
When she was 17, Emma was diagnosed with cysts on her ovaries and was told it was unlikely she would be able to have children. But when she was 26 she discovered she was 17 weeks pregnant.
In March last year she thought she was having a panic attack and her heart started racing while serving a customer.
She said: “It felt like something sweeping across my body.”
Emma, of Wainscott Road, had a bad reaction to medication prescribed and also suffered from malnourishment because she was living on yoghurt and liquid foods.
Realising that she was not feeling any better, she sought to find an alternative diagnosis.
Speaking from the home she shares with partner Lee Woollett, 42, she said: “I realised it was not medication I needed. I noticed a big wide lump across my stomach but thought it was down to a swollen bladder because of the diet I was on.”
Emma had X-rays which did not reveal the cyst and countless tests which showed no abnormalities.
She said: “I was going to my GP, Medocc and A&E so many times, I think they thought I was a nutter or hypochondriac. Even I thought I was going mad at times but the pain was worse than childbirth.”
It was while she was on a holiday in Dymchurch at the end of May that Lee took her to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford because she was doubled up in agony. She was given a CT scan and was told by a nurse that they had found “a huge mass”.
Gynaecologists at Medway Maritime Hospital identified it as a dermoid cyst and it was removed, along with her right ovary and part of her fallopian tube, by keyhole surgery.
Within weeks Emma’s life returned to normality.
She said : “Looking back it was my more than a year of hell. I want every woman to read my story and get help if they are even a little worried. Listen to your body because you know what’s best.”
Emma is now eating normally and has recently got a job in a jewellery shop in Chatham.
The dermoid cyst has no specific timing of occurrence and it may come out on the face, skull or the spinal cord at any moment.
In worst possible cases, the dermoid cysts develop in ovaries, which is painful. This appears in women during child-bearing age.
Dermoid cysts that develop in ovary or ovarian dermoid are identified as mature teratoma, or abnormal growth.
Cysts near the surface of the skin can swell and may feel uncomfortable. If the cyst has grown large enough, you may feel some pain in your pelvic area.
More by this authorNicola Jordan