Kristion Kim

Staci Kim didn’t believe her son had an eating disorder. She knew exactly how much he ate.

As KOIN reports, 15-year-old Kristion Kim of Tualatin, Oregon had just started his freshman year of high school. He was active and athletic. He joined the football team. And he was also losing weight.

Between the summer and the end of January, Kristion dropped 40 pounds. The teen told KOIN that the entire time, he was desperately trying to keep his weight up:

“At the time I was trying to eat more calories. I had to stop activities that I liked doing and at the same time I was still losing more weight. I felt like I had no control.”

Staci took her son to the doctor, where the teen was diagnosed with an eating disorder.

However, the mom couldn’t believe that was the problem. “I know what you eat. I see what you eat,” she said.

Staci told KATU that when she saw how her son’s body had changed over the past few months, she knew it had to be more than an eating disorder:

“I went into his room and he was sitting on his bed, leaning over and I could see his ribs and I said ‘There’s no way in hell.’ I said, ‘You have something very wrong with you.'”

Kristion, who knew that he wasn’t anorexic, was also aware something was strange about his body. He told KOIN that he’d developed a bulge in his stomach:

“[It] felt like my stomach would bulge out a little bit, but I’d stick it in just to not show the bulge.”

After noticing the same bulge, Staci went to the doctor to demand her son be taken to a specialist immediately:

“That bulge is not normal,” she recalled telling the doctor. “I said I want to see a G.I. doctor. I want more tests. I said, ‘Something needs to be done now!'”

Kristion went to a specialist, who ran a series of tests and found the explanation for the teen’s weight loss. Kristion had liposarcoma, a rare cancerous tumor that develops from fat tissue.

On February 26, the teen underwent surgery to have the 25-pound tumor removed. Fortunately, it was not attached to any blood vessels or organs.

Our family pic taken before my sons surgery to remove the huge liposarcoma cancer tumor.Thanks beautiful I will cherish this forever

Posted by Staci Gutierrez Kim on Sunday, March 24, 2019

The teen described living with the tumor by comparing it to “having a monster in your body at all times.” He said that the doctors “told me that this is astonishing to have something that big inside of a teenager.”

Over the past month, Kristion has been recovering from the surgery. While he had difficulty keeping food down at first, the teen has finally been able to go home.

On the Facebook page set up to follow Kristion’s progress, his mom celebrated the fact that her son is now cancer-free and finally starting to put on weight again.

Staci told KOIN that she worries about what might have happened if she hadn’t pushed to get more tests and answers about her son’s weight loss:

“If you feel like something is wrong, you need to speak up. Speak up for yourself, speak up for your child, speak up for your mother, father, if you’re taking care of them. You need to be that person’s advocate.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family deal with expenses flowing from Kristion’s illness.

Kristion, who is one of nine children, told KOIN that his illness helped him understand what’s really important:

“I took a lot of things for granted, like family. You really have no idea who is there for you until they need to be there for you.”

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