PLANO, Texas -- Sherilyn Hurdle thought she would have to be near death - brought to the hospital by ambulance - in order to get the surgery she desperately needs.
The 38-year-old Lewisville woman’s belly is distended with a watermelon-sized ovarian cyst that has been growing for two years.
Sherilyn has been the emergency room several times and urged to get surgery to remove the tumor before it ruptured. But without health insurance, unable to work, and ineligible for Medicaid, Sherilyn couldn’t afford surgery.
She, like thousands of Texans, fall into a frightening health care gap.
"I don't want to be that person that lives off the government, I don't want to do that,” she said. “I want to be able to work. And in order for me to work, this has got to come out."
After a News 8 report on her desperate search to get surgery, offers to help came pouring in, including financial contributions from people Sherilyn had never met, and one from Plano Dr. Darrell Robins.
Robins is a gynecologist who said he watched the story and could tell Sherilyn’s condition was very serious.
"The one concern is that it could torque or twist, and that would be an emergency,” Dr. Robins said of the chance the cyst could burst, “or that it could be something not benign - that it could be cancerous - and that's why we need to remove it and see what it is.”
The vast majority of ovarian cysts shrink on their own with time. Robins said ovarian cysts as large as Sherilyn’s are rare and can be dangerous.
Dr. Robins said because others have helped his family when they were in need, he offered to do Sherilyn's surgery for free. Texas Health Plano provided the operating room.
After the original News 8 report, Sherilyn suddenly qualified for Medicaid. Hospital officials can’t explain it. Dr. Robins said it was unexpected and Sherilyn said she was given no explanation.
Medicaid coverage means at least a portion of the surgery will be covered.
In the operating room, it took only minutes to see the growth inside her belly was, indeed, massive.
"It's a big one,” Dr. Robins remarked.
The cyst was about the size and weight of a bowling ball.
On the cyst, Dr. Robins saw suspicious areas that required biopsy. Within minutes, pathology reported that the growth was a “borderline tumor” that requires further testing. Removing it now, before potentially cancerous cells have a chance to spread, turned out to be critical.
"If that's the case, then she'll be cured from this operation,” Robins said. He added that the surgery saved Sherilyn’s life.
Further tests are being done to make sure the tumor hasn’t spread and that Sherilyn won’t need chemotherapy. Results of those tests are expected Friday.
Money people donated toward Sherilyn’s care will go toward any uncovered medical costs.
To all those who helped, Sherilyn Hurdle speaks from her heart.
"I say thank you. Thank you very much,” she said. “And I hope that y'all are blessed just as much as y'all have blessed me.