A retired civil servant has told of her shock at learning the weight she was struggling to lose was a football-sized tumour lodged in her stomach.
Val Best, of Highwoods Square in Colchester, Essex, decided to get fitter after the death of her cab driver husband Roger in 2010.
Surgeons at Colchester hospital removed a tumour which weighed 7.5kg from the 69-year-old.
She said: "Now I'm absolutely fine, I'm fit and healthy, a new me."
The mother of four said her concerns grew because no amount of exercise seemed to shift the bulge over her abdomen.
"I was trying to lose weight after my husband died," said Mrs Best, who used to work in the job centre.
"I thought 'I'm getting older and I'm getting fat and I'd better lose weight or I'll get diabetes or something like that'.
'A new me'
"I wasn't succeeding and I was feeling like I was nine months' pregnant," she said. "But at 69 and a widow I thought I can't be nine months' pregnant. So I went to the doctor."
Her doctor expected to find soft tissue around Mrs Best's stomach but instead found it to be hard.
As a result, she was sent for the first of a number of scans.
"I thought it was going to be a waste of time to be honest," said Mrs Best.
But she ended up being seen by doctors at Colchester General hospital.
She said: "The specialist surgeon ordered a more detailed scan and found a tumour, which scared the life out of me."
The tumour was attached to one of her ovaries and had grown upwards and outwards.
"I nicknamed it my spacehopper, the doctor called it a football, a very large football," said Mrs Best. "It weighed 7.5kg (1st), the size of two babies.
"I did ask the surgeon whether he could do me a tummy-tuck at the same time but he said, 'no, the cut was going in the wrong direction'."
She told how she was very "frightened" about having the operation.
"I couldn't have had better treatment anywhere else," she said. "And while I was open they removed some other parts including a handful of cancer cells in my uterus, which is why I feel they saved my life."
"Now I'm absolutely fine, I'm fit and healthy, a new me."
She has since returned to her exercise regime.
A spokesman for the hospital said: "'We're really pleased to hear she's doing well. It was an unusually large tumour."