For months, Hector Hernandez, 47, didn’t understand why his stomach had gotten so big.
“I just thought I was fat,” he said. “I’ve always been a big guy.”
It would be a year and a half before he discovered that his large belly was actually a 77-pound tumor. In the meantime, he watched as it grew and grew.
When he took the Los Angeles Metro to work every morning, people would stare.
“I wore big jackets to try to cover up, but it was very noticeable,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
And when he sat at his desk, where he did billing for an information technology company, “my stomach would just lay between my legs,” he said.
Some assumed he was overly fond of beer.
One day a man approached him at a Circle K convenience store near where Mr. Hernandez lives in Downey, Calif., rubbed his stomach and told him he shouldn’t drink, because “it’s not good for you,” Mr. Hernandez said.
“And I just laughed and said, ‘You know what, I don’t drink,’” he said.
He also doesn’t overeat, but Mr. Hernandez tried a plant-based diet, hoping it would make a difference.