Can’t stop growing

In Health & Lifestyles on October 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm

By:Logan O’Boyle

With nothing helping Angus' condition, she remains the only case of gigantism in the world. Photo courtesy of Google images

Growing up, Tanya Angus lived a perfectly normal childhood. She played sports, had lots of friends and made average grades in school. However, all that changed a short time after Angus graduated high school. When she graduated at age 18, Angus was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. She was also under the impression that she was done growing.

A little over ten years later, Angus started to outgrow her clothes, shoes and jewelry. She also started wearing more makeup than normal. Before she knew it Angus grew to be about 7 feet tall and weighed about 430 pounds. Angus was then diagnosed with acromegaly, more commonly known as gigantism. In just the course of ten years, every aspect of Angus’ life was changed. Only 50 out of one million Americans will become diagnosed with gigantism in their lifetime. This rare condition is caused by a tumor inside the brain. The tumor is produced by the pituitary gland that releases an excess amount of growth hormones. In some of these cases, such as Angus’, the gland never stops releasing the growth hormone. This condition leads to extreme growth in height, enlarged organs, vision problems, thickening of facial features and severe heart problems.

When diagnosed with gigantism, neurologists first perform surgery to remove the tumor from the brain. After the procedure is finished, most patients have a small portion of the tumor left on the brain which is too dangerous to remove through surgery. Normally the left over tumor can be treated with shots and oral pills. Doctors agree that patients who are treated in the early stages of gigantism can live long and normal lives. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Angus.

After Angus was diagnosed with the disorder, she went through numerous surgeries and was given many forms of medication in attempts to keep her growth under control. However, nothing is helping Angus’ condition, and she remains the only case of gigantism in the world that surgeries and medication cannot stop. Doctors claim that they are unable to remove the entire tumor from Angus’ brain, and they fear that her growth cannot be stopped. Doctors also say that Angus’ body can’t take another surgery and that if one is performed, she will not survive.

Angus is exactly 6 feet 11 inches tall. Her body is breaking down, and her spine has collapsed. It is almost impossible for Angus to walk more than a few feet, so she uses a wheelchair to get around. The only way for Angus to travel is her mother’s minivan, which has been specially fitted for Angus’ size. If Angus’ pattern continues, she will soon outgrow the minivan as well.    

However, there are new hopes in store for Angus. Last Wednesday, she and her mom were taken to a hospital in San Francisco, where a neurologist specialist has promised to look over the case. The new doctor hopes to give Angus a treatment that will change her life and hopefully make things normal for Angus once again.


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