Woman Loses 140 Pounds -- of Tumor

An Oregon woman's massive tumor goes undiscovered for 20 years.

ByABC News
July 15, 2008, 6:08 PM

July 17, 2008— -- No matter how hard Linda Rittenbach of Redmond, Ore., exercised and dieted through the years, she just couldn't seem to lose her excess weight.

Finally, after three surgeries earlier this year, the 58-year-old lost 140 pounds in the form of two previously undetected tumors that were extracted from her midsection.

Removed between March and May, her tumors, known as liposarcomas, had been growing for an estimated 15 to 20 years.

They were discovered during exploratory surgery when Rittenbach was unable to fit into the scanner after being rushed to the ER with flu-like symptoms. In addition to the tumors, doctors found that her appendix had burst.

"Mom didn't have time to react to the news right away," her daughter, Katie Jones, told ABC News. "She was very depressed and preparing to die when she got the news that they had taken out the first one and that the doctors would have to take out the other one later. She planned for her death in case she didn't make it out of the third surgery."

After the initial surgery in the ER, Rittenbach was sent to Oregon Health and Sciences University.

"There they prepared her for a 20-percent chance of survival with the surgery or go home and die in two months," Jones said. "She talked with the family and decided to go for it."

After a 13-hour operation, Rittenbach was sent home. She had a third surgery at St. Charles Medical Center-Redmond.

While it took Rittenbach many years to be diagnosed, Jones said that she had long suspected that her mother had a problem that would not be solved by diet and exercise.

"I told my mother 10 years ago that her stomach was too hard for it just to be fat," she said. "Ten years ago; when she could still get on the floor and do sit ups there was a little bump the size of a softball that would stick out just a little, when she would sit up.

"I knew it was a tumor years ago but trusted the doctor because he went to school many years and he should know better than me."