SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — When Josh Abken told his doctor he was having persistent back pain about a year ago, the doctor took an x-ray.

The Chico-area school vice principal said he was stunned to learn what was growing inside him.

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“You think you got a serious muscle pull or something, [but] the doctor has that serious doctor face you see on TV,” Abken said. “They didn’t really know what was growing inside of me.”

They named it Gill: A soccer-ball size “alien” tumor that had become as solid as a rock and even had growing tentacles.

Abken and his family made shirts bearing the motto “Kill Gill,” based on the movie posters for the film “Kill Bill.”

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The husband and father of two said doctors told him the giant tumor was beginning to put pressure on his heart, shove his lungs out of position and even squash his stomach downward. It apparently had been growing for at least a decade.

“My kids are pretty young, they knew Daddy had a big ‘owee,’” he said.

Thoracic surgeon Costanzo Di Perna was able to remove the tumor before it killed Abken, but required several hours of surgery before it was all gone.

“Trying to take out this large, calcified tumor, hard like a rock, created a difficult surgical experience,” Dr. Di Perna said.

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Abken will continue to receive PET-CT scans to see if the tumor will return, but he has stayed cancer-free for about a year.