NEW YORK (CBS) Jake Cohen is grateful he's feeling healthy again. For years, he had burning chest pains, but since he was so young, doctors dismissed his concerns.
"They told me that it was probably nothing. And I would accept it," Cohen said. "I would go home and I'd take some antacid medicine or something like that, but I really kind of felt something was off."
His symptoms got worse. He took a stress test and his blood pressure dropped so drastically, he was rushed to the emergency room. That's where an MRI revealed the 32-year-old had a tumor in his heart the size of a tennis ball.
"So, Jake's tumor is the largest one I have ever seen," said Dr. Yoshifumi Naka of Columbia University Medical Center.
Naka says the tumor, which could have been growing since Cohen was born, was starting to compromise his heart function.
"So, the tumor is inside the tumor capsule and then expanding, expanding, expanding," Naka explained.
Dr. Thomas Cosola, a cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, says tumors in the heart are very rare.
"In the 17 years I've been here, I've seen two," Cosola said.
Cohen's tumor was benign.
"I feel extremely lucky," he said.
For the first time in his life, he says he can exercise without feeling sick.
"Now, three, four days a week in the gym and trying to get in good shape and just trying to live a really healthy life," Cohen said.
Doctors have given him a clean bill of health and are optimistic his tumor won't grow back.
These kinds of tumors in the heart are so rare that a study reviewing 12,000 autopsies, only found seven cases.