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Gigantism May Be Death Sentence for Nevada Woman After Brain Surgery Deemed Too Risky

Tanya Angus, at 6-feet 11-inches and 372 Pounds, Was Preparing for Surgery When MRIs Showed Complications

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES and SARAH NETTER

Aug. 5, 2010 2010

The Nevada woman suffering from gigantism who was counting on brain surgery to save her life now faces an uncertain future after doctors deemed the procedure too risky.

Tanya Angus, 31, was slated to travel to California for surgery late last month, but has learned the the size and location of the tumor on her pituitary gland leaves her at grave risk for paralysis or even death if she goes in for surgery.

"My heart just bottomed out," Angus' mother, Karen Strutynski, told ABCNews.com. "She's kind of accepted the fact that there's nothing more they can do for her other than take her medicine."

At 6-feet 11-inches and 372 pounds, Angus was of normal height and weight until her early 20s, when a tumor on her pituitary gland caused her to grow uncontrollably. The condition is known as acromegaly. Hers is the only documented case in the world in which surgery and medications cannot control her growth.

It was the family's hope that doctors would be able to remove enough of the tumor that one of Angus' medications would allow to live another 10 to 20 years.

Now, Strutynski said, her daughter's life expectancy is only for another few years.

"You never give up hope. You never truly give up hope," she said. "If anything happens to her, no, I'm not prepared."

And talking about what may be the inevitable "doesn't make it any easier," she said. "It's dreadful."

She has already had three surgeries. One 13-hour operation nearly killed her, and another caused a stroke that took away most of her hearing.

Dr. John Atkinson, professor of neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, hasn't treated Angus, but said today that it is not uncommon for tumors to wrap around the carotid artery if they get too big, as is the case with Angus.

"If they cannot get it under control ... then it will kill her eventually," he said.

For gigantism patients who can be treated safely, they can live a long life with proper medical care, though their distorted features are unlikely to change much, save for a thinning of the tissues.

Patients left untreated, or in rare cases like Angus', ineligible for treatment, will eventually succumb, Atkinson said. He said the problem will not be the tumor, but complications caused by the growth hormone as it floods the body's systems.

Strutynski said her daughter's doctors are now considering another round of radiation -- her last was in 2003 -- to keep the tumor at bay.

Tanya Angus' Case Inspired Paramedics, Doctors to Get Involved

The surgery was to have been the last step in an arduous process. It had been a challenge just to arrange to get Angus from Nevada to California for the surgery.

After hearing Angus' story, paramedics and staff at American Medical Response, an ambulance firm, began calling and e-mailing their bosses, who responded by providing a specialty care transport vehicle that can accommodate Tanya.

"A vehicle like this offers the extra room to make the ride comfortable for her," AMR operations manager Chad Henry told ABC's Las Vegas affiliate KTNV.

The company had offered the super-sized vehicle for free, complete with a trained medical team, for the five-hour ride to Santa Monica.

At the time Strutynski said just the act of getting her daughter to California gave her hope.

Angus had also received numerous financial donations to cover food and lodging during and after her surgery.

An estimated 60 million Americans -- one out of five people -- suffer from pituitary or hormonal disorders, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

Angus, once a beautiful 21-year-old who rode horses, danced and had a boyfriend, one day noticed changes in her 5-foot-8-inch frame: Her shoes didn't quite fit, her jeans were too tight and her hands got bigger.

"She was perfectly normal, but by age 22 she had grown three inches," said her mother. "Nobody knew what was going on."

Angus, who lived in Michigan and was a supervisor at a Walmart, began to worry when even her face and head got larger. Her bosses also noticed -- and fired her. And her boyfriend left when his parents began to ask, "Is she a man?'"

Tanya decided to return home in 2002. When her sister picked her up at the airport, she "freaked out," because she didn't recognize Tanya.

The doctor took one look and diagnosed acromegaly, also known as gigantism, caused by a tumor in her brain that is pushing on her pituitary gland, causing it to produce an excess of growth hormone.

"I don't know how to explain how it is, being a giant," Tanya told KTNV last month. "I put my shoes on in the morning, I'm like, 'Ugh, gosh they're growing again. I'm growing again.'"

Tanya has already outgrown three vehicles, according to Strutynski, 54, a medic who works three part-time jobs.

"If I could stick her on a regular airplane it would be no problem, a couple hundred dollars and she goes, but she doesn't fit," she said.

Sometimes Tanya can squeeze into the passenger seat of their minivan, but since she has the legs of a seven-foot-tall person, it would have been too painful to make the five-hour trip to California.

Acromegaly Affects Organs, Too

"The tumor has been growing from the time Tanya hit puberty," said Strutynski. "Her back is collapsing due to the overgrowth. As she grows her bones weaken and they break down. She is so big, her spine looks like a boomerang."

"When she grows, everything in her body grows -- her lungs, kidneys, bladder," she said. "Her body is literally having a hard time and she is so uncomfortable."

In more than 98 percent of the cases, acromegaly is caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland that causes it to secrete excessive growth hormone, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

Acromegaly is not that rare. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports six cases in every 100,000 people, but the association says many cases go undiagnosed or under-treated because doctors are not educated enough about the disease.

Two celebrities with the syndrome are Andre the Giant, the French wrestler who died in 1993, and Richard Kiel, who starred in several James Bond films in the 1970s as "Jaws."

If acromegaly is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to serious damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, spleen, pancreas, and parathyroid glands.

Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. Left untreated, it results in altered facial appearance and enlargement of the hands and feet.

In Tanya's case, the medications and prior surgeries have failed to stop the growth.

Her shoes -- 15-1/2 at the moment -- have to be custom-fit and her ring size has jumped from 6-1/2 to 20. Like others with the condition, she has headaches, tiredness and sleep apnea. She wears an oxygen mask at night.

The tumor has also caused arthritis and diabetes insipidus, which makes it hard for her body to maintain hydration.

Though she was once able to walk, her knees can no longer hold her weight, so she is mostly confined to a reclining wheelchair. Lying flat on her back is not only painful, but dangerous because it puts too much pressure on her fragile organs.

Tanya Angus Has High Spirits, Despite Pain

Tanya is on multiple drugs, including a cold, thick Vaseline-like medicine that her mother injects once a month. Much of the medication is for her excruciating pain.

The family has health insurance, but they have already spent $200,000 of their own money on her care. The medicines alone cost $45,000 a month.

"My husband is running out of CDs," said Strutynski. "We bought a 22-foot motor home to travel east, and bought it on a loan and there wasn't enough for a downpayment, so he traded in his Corvette."

Everything in her home is custom made, from her reclining wheelchair to the enormous bed with a specially-padded mattress.

As a former horseback rider and swimmer, Tanya finds being weightless in the backyard pool therapeutic, although it takes two people to get her in the water.

But her spirits are extraordinary, according to her soon-to-be-godmother Tina Valle, who rented an apartment to Tanya and her sister and now runs Tanya's website.

"Karen and Allen [Strutynski] came and wanted a lease for their daughter and told me she had gigantism," said Valle, 53, who lives in New Mexico.

"I thought OK, I have seen that in books, but when I saw Tanya came in -- wow -- she is big, she is really big," she said. "And she weighed a lot more at the time. But her personality came through so fast and her size dissipated and I fell in love with her right away."

"She is the kindest, sweetest, most loving girl," said Valle. "When people meet her they want to give her everything and want to do anything for her."

 

###

 

KTNV ABC, Channel 13, Las Vegas, Nevada

Woman with gigantism told surgery is too dangerous

Updated: Aug 04, 2010 12:55 AM MDT

A sad You Ask, We Investigate update tonight. A woman whose story touched the community will not be able to undergo potentially life saving surgery.

Tanya Angus suffers from gigantism or acromegaly.

She needs surgery to remove a large tumor in her brain that's pressing against her pituitary gland, but doctors now say its too dangerous.

"Its just a horrible, horrible, disease," Tanya says.

Its a disease that changed Tanya both physically and emotionally.

"I used to be pretty and skinny," she says.

In her early twenties a tumor in Tanya's brain started growing and crushing her pituitary gland, releasing an overdrive of growth hormone. In the last few weeks she's been preparing for a surgery to remove a bulk of the tumor mass, but in just the last few days, doctors told her its not possible.

"This is a major setback," Tanya's mother, Karen Strutynksi says through tears.

Tanya and her family are devastated and holding on to one another for support. Tanya's body can't take much more growth, while the tumor could eventually crush her brain.

"You can't fix it, momma always kisses boo boos and makes it better, you can't fix it," Karen says while crying.

But they can help other people. Both Tanya and her mother believe her extreme case created more exposure and awareness.

"When I hear someone else has been helped by my story, it makes me feel good," Tanya says.

It also feels good to know their community cares.

"people come up to us in the street, in the store (and say) I saw you on TV and they give us a hug. That helps us so much just to know they are there," Karen says.

If you'd like to know more about Tanya's story, go to her website. www.tanyaangus.com

 
All content Copyright 2000 - 2010 WorldNow and KTNV. All Rights Reserved
 
 

View Video

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Woman With Gigantism Gets Help for Brain Surgery

Tanya Angus, at 6-feet 11-inches and 372 Pounds, Is 'Grateful' to Paramedic Company

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES

July 19, 2010

Nevada paramedics who were touched by the story of a 6-foot 11-inch woman with gigantism, say they can transport Tanya Angus to life-saving surgery in California next month.

Angus, who is 6-feet 11-inches tall and 372 pounds, is the only known documented case in the world in which surgery and medications cannot control her growth. She has a tumor on her pituitary gland.

She has had three surgeries. One 13-hour operation nearly killed her, and another caused a stroke that took away most of her hearing.

Nearly crushed by her weight, Tanya is scheduled to go to undergo surgery at Saint John's Health Center at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., sometime this month.

Paramedics and staff at American Medical Response who heard Tanya's story began calling and e-mailing their bosses, who responded by providing a specialty care transport vehicle that can accommodate Tanya.

"A vehicle like this offers the extra room to make the ride comfortable for her," AMR operations manager Chad Henry told ABC's affiliate KTNV.

AMR and Medic West Ambulance respond to nearly 600 emergency calls a day in southern Nevada.

The company has offered the super-sized vehicle for free, complete with a trained medical team, for the five-hour ride to Santa Monica.

"We are honored to help her with this step during such a difficult journey, and wish her and her family our best," said Tony Greenway, an EMT-P and manager of Medic West.

Her mother, Karen Strutynski of Las Vegas, Nevada, said she was overwhelmed with "tears of happiness."

"And there's hope," she told KTNV. "I'm just grateful, truly grateful."

Angus has also received numerous financial donations to cover food and lodging during and after her surgery.

An estimated 1 in 5, or 60 million Americans, suffers from pituitary or hormonal disorder, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

Angus, once a beautiful 21-year-old who rode horses, danced and had a boyfriend, one day noticed changes in her 5-foot-8-inch frame: Her shoes didn't quite fit, her jeans were too tight and her hands got bigger.

"She was perfectly normal, but by age 22 she had grown three inches," said her mother. "Nobody knew what was going on."

Angus, who lived in Michigan and was a supervisor at a Wal-Mart, began to worry when even her face and head got larger. Her bosses also noticed -- and fired her. And her boyfriend left when his parents began to ask, "Is she a man?'"

Tanya decided to return home in 2002. When her sister picked her up at the airport, she "freaked out," because she didn't recognize Tanya.

The doctor took one look and diagnosed acromegaly, also known as gigantism, caused by a tumor in her brain that is pushing on her pituitary gland, causing it to produce an excess of growth hormone.

"I don't know how to explain how it is, being a giant," Tanya told ABC's affiliate KTNV. "I put my shoes on in the morning, I'm like, 'Ugh, gosh they're growing again. I'm growing again.'"

Tanya has already outgrown three vehicles, according to Strutynski, 54, a medic who works three part-time jobs.

"If I could stick her on a regular airplane it would be no problem, a couple hundred dollars and she goes, but she doesn't fit," she said.

Sometimes Tanya can squeeze in to the passenger seat of their minivan, but since she has the legs of a seven-foot-tall person, it would have been too painful to make the five-hour trip to California.

Acromegaly Affects Organs, Too

"The tumor has been growing from the time Tanya hit puberty," said Strutynski. "Her back is collapsing due to the overgrowth. As she grows her bones weaken and they break down. She is so big, her spine looks like a boomerang."

"When she grows, everything in her body grows -- her lungs, kidneys, bladder," she said. "Her body is literally having a hard time and she is so uncomfortable."

In more than 98 percent of the cases, acromegaly is caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland that causes it to secrete excessive growth hormone, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

Acromegaly is not that rare. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports six cases in every 100,000 people, but the association says many cases go undiagnosed or under-treated because doctors are not educated enough about the disease.

Two celebrities with the syndrome are Andre the Giant, the French wrestler who died in 1993, and Richard Kiel, who starred in several James Bond films in the 1970s as "Jaws."

If acromegaly is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to serious damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, spleen, pancreas, and parathyroid glands.

Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. Left untreated, it results in altered facial appearance and enlargement of the hands and feet.

In Tanya's case, the medications and prior surgeries have failed to stop the growth.

Her shoes -- 15-1/2 at the moment -- have to be custom-fit and her ring size has jumped from 6-1/2 to 20. Like others with same condition, she has headaches, tiredness and sleep apnea. She wears an oxygen mask at night.

The tumor has also caused arthritis and diabetes insipidus, which makes it hard for her body to maintain hydration.

Though she was once able to walk, her knees can no longer hold her weight, so she is mostly confined to a reclining wheelchair. Lying flat on her back is not only painful, but dangerous because it puts too much pressure on her fragile organs.

Tanya Angus Has High Spirits, Despite Pain

Tanya is on multiple drugs, including a cold, thick-Vaseline like medicine that her mother injects once a month. Much of the medication is for her excruciating pain.

The family has health insurance, but they have already spent $200,000 of their own money on her care. The medicines alone cost $45,000 a month.

"My husband is running out of CDs," said Strutynski. "We bought a 22-foot motor home to travel east, and bought it on a loan and there wasn't enough for a downpayment, so he traded in his Corvette."

Everything in her home is custom made, from her reclining wheelchair to the enormous bed with a specially-padded mattress.

As a former horseback rider and swimmer, Tanya finds being weightless in the backyard pool therapeutic, although it takes two people to get her in the water.

But her spirits are extraordinary, according to her soon-to-be-godmother Tina Valle, who rented an apartment to Tanya and her sister and now runs Tanya's website.

"Karen and Allen [Strutynski] came and wanted a lease for their daughter and told me she had gigantism," said Valle, 53, who lives in New Mexico.

"I thought OK, I have seen that in books, but when I saw Tanya came in -- wow -- she is big, she is really big," she said. "And she weighed a lot more at the time. But her personality came through so fast and her size dissipated and I fell in love with her right away."

"She is the kindest, sweetest, most loving girl," said Valle. "When people meet her they want to give her everything and want to do anything for her."

Tanya's tumor is tangled around her carotid artery, which makes surgery complicated. But if she makes it through, Tanya will undergo another one to reinforce her spine.

"She poses all sorts of big risks, literally and figuratively because of her size," said Dr. Dan Kelly, director of the brain tumor center at St. John's Health Center and John Wayne Cancer. "It makes everything more problematic."

Kelly and Dr. Amin Kassam, director of the Neuroscience Institute, hope to perform Tanya's surgery later this month.

The doctors are currently awaiting hormone test results as they want to have a "good rationale" for surgery before they put Tanya's life at risk once more.

"If we only get 30 percent of her tumor, it's not worth subjecting her to the risk," said Kelly. "If we get 70 to 80 percent, we can help get her growth hormone level to a reasonable range."

Tanya's mother said she is "hopeful" for success.

"Two years ago, they told me she was terminal and I asked, 'Where is her date stamp?'" said Strutynski. "She's a fighter and she knows mom is here and will fight with her."

 

 

 

###

 

 

KTNV ABC, Channel 13,

Las Vegas, Nevada, KTNV.com,Action News

Family of woman suffering from gigantism touched by community outreach

Reporter: Heather Klein

 

Updated: Jul 16, 2010 12:33 AM MDT

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - A young Las Vegas woman is in the fight for her life. But thanks to some caring locals, that fight is going to be a lot easier.

We first told you about Tanya Angus on Sunday. She suffers from a condition called Acromegaly, or Gigantism. She's 31 years old, 6'11" and weighs 372 pounds. A tumor is pushing on her pituitary gland and forcing an overdrive of growth hormone.

She is preparing for her fourth brain surgery to remove the bulk of the tumor, but Tanya needs a ride. The surgery is in California and she doesn't fit in most normal modes of transportation.

"It's hard enough dealing with this disease, let alone finding a ride," Tanya Angus says.

"It was a parents worse nightmare, this is mom, and mom can't do it, I felt like I was letting her down," Tanya's mom, Karen Strutynski says through tears.

Friends contacted You Ask, We Investigate and Tanya and her mother told her story.

"I just thought,ok. And hope and pray it works," Karen says.

That's when the paramedics and staff at AMR heard Tanya's story and started calling and emailing their superiors. They listened and told Tanya they have a larger than normal ambulance. Its called a specialty care transport vehicle.

"A vehicle like this offers the extra room to make the ride comfortable for her," Chad Henry, AMR Operations Manager with AMR says.

And AMR has offered it for Tanya's use absolutely free, complete with a trained medical team.

"I'm so grateful for AMR," Tanya says.

"I'm watching their mouths say this and I'm hearing this, after they left when it sunk in, these are tears of happiness. And there's hope," Karen says.

Hope, that Tanya won't just get the help she needs from the doctor, but also from people who care.

"I'm just grateful, truly grateful," Karen says.

Its not just AMR volunteering to help. Since our story aired, people have made financial donations as well to help out with food and lodging during and after Tanya's surgery.

If you want to know more about Tanya or her disease click here to go to her website.

All content Copyright 2000 - 2010 WorldNow and KTNV. All Rights Reserved

 

 

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/Health

 

 

Click here to read the story in it's original format at ABCNews

 

Woman With Gigantism Too Big To Get to Hospital for Surgery

At 6-feet 11-inches and 372 Pounds, Tanya Angus Can't Fit in Car or Van Anymore

 

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES

July 14, 2010 --

Tanya Angus, a beautiful 21-year-old who rode horses, danced and had a boyfriend, one day noticed changes in her 5-foot-8-inch frame: Her shoes didn't quite fit, her jeans were too tight and her hands got bigger.

"She was perfectly normal, but by age 22 she had grown three inches," said her mother, Karen Strutynski of Las Vegas, Nevada. "Nobody knew what was going on."

Angus, who lived in Michigan and was a supervisor at a Walmart, began to worry when even her face and head got larger. Her bosses also noticed -- and fired her. And her boyfriend left when his parents began to ask, "Is she a man?'"

Tanya decided to return home in 2002. When her sister picked her up at the airport, she "freaked out," because she didn't recognize Tanya.

The doctor took one look and diagnosed acromegaly, also known as gigantism, caused by a tumor in her brain that is pushing on her pituitary gland, causing it to produce an excess of growth hormone.

Today, at 31, Angus is 6-feet 11-inches tall and has ballooned from 135 to 372 pounds.

"I don't know how to explain how it is, being a giant," Tanya told ABC's affiliate KTNV. "I put my shoes on in the morning, I'm like, 'Ugh, gosh they're growing again. I'm growing again.'"

According to her family, Tanya is the only known documented case in the world in which surgery and medications cannot control her growth.

She has had three surgeries: one 13-hour operation nearly killed her, and another caused a stroke that took away most of her hearing.

Nearly crushed by her weight, Tanya is scheduled to go to undergo surgery at Saint John's Health Center at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., sometime this month.

But she is so big that her loved ones have no idea how they will get her there.

"She's outgrown three vehicles already," said Strutynski, 54, a medic who works three part-time jobs.

"If I could stick her on a regular airplane it would be no problem, a couple hundred dollars and she goes, but she doesn't fit," she said.

Sometimes Tanya can squeeze in to the passenger seat of their minivan, but since she has the legs of a seven-foot-tall person, it's too painful to make the five-hour trip to California.

"The alternative is for her to lay in the floor of the mini-van almost the entire way," said her mother. "That's something she's dreading almost as much as the surgery. "

"That scares me more than anything," Tanya said. "It's hard enough to think about what you're going to go through and then think about how much pain you're going to be in even getting there."

Strutynski is hoping someone will donate a modified vehicle or find a way to get Tanya to California on board a private plane.

Acromegaly Affects Organs, Too

"The tumor has been growing from the time Tanya hit puberty," said Karen Strutynski. "Her back is collapsing due to the overgrowth. As she grows her bones weaken and they break down. She is so big, her spine looks like a boomerang."

"When she grows, everything in her body grows -- her lungs, kidneys, bladder," she said. "Her body is literally having a hard time and she is so uncomfortable."

In more than 98 percent of the cases, acromegaly is caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland that secretes excessive growth hormone, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

Acromegaly is not that rare, and most tumors are undiscovered and under-treated because doctors are not educated in either diagnosis or treatment, according to the PNA.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports six cases in every 100,000, but many cases go undiagnosed or under-treated because doctors are not educated enough about the disease.

Two celebrities with the syndrome are Andre the Giant, the French wrestler who died in 1993, and Richard Kiel, who starred in several James Bond films in the 1970s as "Jaws."

If acromegaly is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to serious damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, spleen, pancreas, and parathyroid glands.

Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. Left untreated, it results in altered facial appearance and enlargement of the hands and feet.

In Tanya's case, the medications and prior surgeries have failed to stop the growth.

Her shoes -- 15-1/2 at the moment -- have to be custom-fit and her ring size has jumped from 6-1/2 to 20. Like others with same condition, she has headaches, tiredness and sleep apnea. She wears an oxygen mask at night.

The tumor has also caused arthritis and diabetes insipidus, which makes it hard for her body to maintain hydration.

Though she was once able to walk, her knees can no longer hold her weight, so she is mostly confined to a reclining wheelchair. Lying flat on her back is not only painful, but dangerous because it puts too much pressure on her fragile organs.

Tanya Angus Has High Spirits, Despite Pain

Tanya is on multiple drugs, including a thick-Vaseline like medicine that her mother injects monthly. Much of the medication is for her excruciating pain.

The family has health insurance, but they have already spent $200,000 of their own money on her care. The medicines alone cost $45,000 a month.

"My husband is running out of CDs," said Strutynski. "We bought a 22-foot motor home to travel east, and bought it on a loan and there wasn't enough for a downpayment, so he traded in his Corvette."

Everything in her home is custom made, from her reclining wheelchair to the enormous bed with a specially-padded mattress.

As a former horseback rider and swimmer, Tanya finds being weightless in the backyard pool therapeutic, although it takes two people to get her in the water.

But her spirits are extraordinary, according to her soon-to-be-godmother Tina Valle, who rented an apartment to Tanya and her sister and now runs Tanya's website.

"Karen and Allen [Strutynski] came and wanted a lease for their daughter and told me she had gigantism," said Valle, 53, who lives in New Mexico.

"I thought OK, I have seen that in books, but when I saw Tanya came in ? wow ? she is big, she is really big," she said. "And she weighed a lot more at the time. But her personality came through so fast and her size dissipated and I fell in love with her right away."

"She is the kindest, sweetest, most loving girl," said Valle. "When people meet her they want to give her everything and want to do anything for her."

Already, several people have responded to Tanya's plea for help, offering ideas and donations to get her to California for surgery.

"We're thinking, if only we could get a private jet that would be perfect," said Valle. "Whatever comes our way, we are open to it."

Tanya's tumor is tangled around her carotid artery, which makes surgery complicated. But if she makes it through, Tanya will undergo another one to reinforce her spine.

Her mother said she is "hopeful" for success in stopping the growth.

"Two years ago, they told me she was terminal and I asked, 'Where is her date stamp?'" said Strutynski. "She's a fighter and she knows mom is here and will fight with her."

 

###

 

KTNV ABC,Channel 13,

Las Vegas, Nevada, KTNV.com, Action News

Surgery to stop gigantism is too painful to get to

Reporter: Heather Klein

 

Updated: Jul 12, 2010 12:52 AM MDT

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - A very special woman is fighting a unique disease that causes her to never stop growing. There is possible help available but it is in another state and getting there is no easy task.

Tanya Angus is 6'11" and weighs 372 pounds. Her shoes have to be custom made, after a mean's 15 1/2 no longer fit. She wears a size 20 ring. Her old size 6 1/2 ring can fit right in the middle with room to share.

That is only a small part of being Tanya Angus.

"When I put my shoes on in the morning, I'm like ugh, gosh they're growing again. I'm growing again," Tanya says.

31 year old Tanya suffers from Acromegaly, or gigantism. A tumor in her brain is pushing on her pituitary gland, producing an overdrive of growth hormone.

"I don't know how to explain how it is, being a giant," Tanya says.

She was a normal size teenager but at 20 she started growing. By the time she was twenty-two and diagnosed, she towered over grown men.

Tanya has undergone four brain surgeries. Her spine can no longer support her and her mobility is limited.

She's in pain constantly. Now she needs surgery number five, in California.

"If I could stick her on a regular airplane it would be no problem, couple hundred dollars and she goes, but she doesn't fit," Tanya's mother, Karen Strutynski, says.

"For short trips around town, Tanya can squeeze in to the passenger seat of their mini-van but since she has the legs of a seven foot tall person, its simply too uncomfortable and too painful to make a five hour trip like this to California. The alternative is for her to lay in the floor of the mini-van almost the entire way. That's something she's dreading almost as much as the surgery.

"That scares me more than anything," Tanya says.

"Its hard enough to think about what you're going to go through and then think about how much pain you're going to be in even getting there," Karen says.

If Tanya doesn't get the surgery the tumor in her brain will crush it, and she'll die.

Her family is asking for any help with getting her transported to California, whether its a large modified van or a private jet.

If you can help click here to go to Tanya's website.

 

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