DOCS: Turning Into A Giant


00:18
COMM: What would you do if you found out you had a condition that meant you couldn’t
stop growing? 00:24
TANYA: It’s like I woke up one day and was Godzilla. 00:31
COMM: How would you react if one morning you didn’t recognise yourself in the mirror? 00:36
DR OYESIKU: Nobodies protected. They literally just wake up and they have the condition. 00:43
MARY: I have not felt normal in so long. 00:46
COMM: How would you cope with a condition that can change your life beyond recognition? 00:50
IGOR: The world is just a very uncomfortable place for someone my size 00:56
KAREN: How can something change someone so fast. 01:17
COMM: Igor Vovkovinsky lives in Rochester, Minnesota. 27 year-old Igor suffers from Acromegalic
Gigantism and at 7ft 8’ he towers over his mum, who he lives with. 01:34
Igor: You making coffee for breakfast? 01:39
COMM: Symptoms of gigantism include rapid upward growth. 01:44
Igor: Being tall makes the world very annoying. Every structure that I go into is too small,
too short. I end up hitting my head on all the exit signs. The world is just a very uncomfortable
place for someone my size. 02:01
COMM: Igor was born in the Ukraine and his size became a problem from a very early age. 02:07
SVETLANA: When Igor was born he was growing too fast. At the age 4,5,6 months he already
was size of 1 year old kid. Usually when kids are born and if they are big size born, in
my home country actually people are happy. But when he was 6 months old and weighed 13
kilos I thought it was a little too heavy. A little too big. I went to see the doctors
and it was the first time he say to me it has Gigantism, when he was six months old. 02:41
COMM: Gigantism is caused by a tumour on the pituitary gland inside the brain. This tumour
produces an excess of growth hormone which is pumped into the body. If a person suffers
the brain tumour before the end of puberty then the condition is called acromegalic gigantism
and results in the patient growing to massive heights, like Igor. But if a person develops
the tumour post puberty then the condition is called acromegaly and the patient grows
outwards rather than upwards. Acromegaly affects three to four out of every million people
each year. 03:16
DR JAKOBY: What most individuals notice right away is that there’s a characteristic facial
appearance of individuals with Acromegaly. The frontal bones become broadened and enlarged
and more prominent. The nose enlarges. The facial features and skin coarsen. The jaw
becomes more prominent. Another striking feature of Acromegaly is the significant enlargement
of the hands and feet and you read descriptions of patients with Acromegaly have spade like
hands and spade like feet. The fingers and toes thicken and the palms and soles widen
and get thickened as well. 03:52
COMM: Both acromegaly and acromegalic gigantism can result in severe disfigurement, serious
disorders such as heart problems and strokes, and premature death, if untreated. 04:06
COMM: Doctors in the Ukraine were unable to perform a much needed operation to remove
Igor’s brain tumour, meaning he continued to grow. So, when he was seven, and already
standing six feet tall, Igor and his mum moved to America, where doctors were able to carry
out the operation. 04:25
SVETLANA: The surgery saved his life but he still was growing after surgery for many more
years. None of us expected that. I always thought that after surgery he would stop growing
but his brain was already affected by tumour and still was producing growth hormone. 04:46
COMM: Igor eventually stopped growing when he was 20 years old.
But not until he’d hit an amazing 7ft 8’ – making him one the tallest men in the
world. 05:02
IGOR: Gigantism has affected me that I feel that I no longer feel that l fit into any
part of society and that’s a feeling that I’ve had ever since I went to middle school
and high school. 05:16
COMM: Igor has recently enrolled at college to continue his education, which has been
badly interrupted by his condition. 05:41
COMM: He’s studying to become a lawyer and attends five classes a week. 05:50
IGOR: I’m used to always sitting in the small chairs and sitting at the small tables
and it’s uncomfortable but I don’t want to make an extra fuss about it so I’m used
to bending over and sitting in the little chairs and writing at the little desks. 06:08
COMM: Igor’s school life has not always run smoothly. 06:12
IGOR: High School was a terrible experience. All four years of high school were just incredibly
harsh. I never had anybody to talk to during school or after school. I never sat with anybody
at lunch. High school was just four miserable years because I was just standing out of the
crowd and didn’t fit into any group, any social group and it felt like I was a nuisance
to everybody in school. 06:39
COMM: Despite his difficult experience during high school, the medical help Igor has received
drives his desire to be a lawyer. 06:46
IGOR: A lot of people have helped us over these years that we’ve lived here and I
feel that more people should have the opportunity to receive the help that I did. 06:56
COMM: Although his height means he struggles to be accepted in his everyday life, as we’ll
see Igor does make a big impression at the very highest level. 07:05
I just want to make some special acknowledgments. The biggest Obama fan in the country is in
the house. 07:18
COMM: Tanya Angus was a beautiful young girl. She loved horse riding, swimming and dancing. 07:35
TANYA: When I was younger I did a lot of just normal kids stuff and I had a ball. I remember
being little like it was yesterday. 07:53
COMM: With good looks and an outgoing personality, Tanya was always popular. But as she got older
she started to notice unexpected changes in her body. 08:04
TANYA: My feet were getting bigger, I was outgrowing my mum’s shirts. I knew something
was wrong. 08:13
COMM: And there was good reason for Tanya’s unease. Because within a few short years her
body had changed beyond recognition and her life had turned upside down. 08:23
KAREN: This little girl that was so happy, so beautiful, had changed. 08:35
COMM: At 18 Tanya was 5ft 8 and ten and a half stone. Now aged 31, she’s 6ft 8 and
weighs nearly 32 stone. And she’s still growing. 08:52
TANYA: It’s like I woke up one day and I was Godzilla or you know, Andre the Giant. 09:07
COMM: Tanya was diagnosed with Acromegaly at the age of 22. Her growth is caused by
the same type of brain tumour that made Igor grow massively tall. But unlike Igor, Tanya
continues to grow outwards and upwards, which doctors claim is incredibly rare for someone
diagnosed with Acromegaly post puberty. 09:29
KAREN: Tanya doesn’t wear normal shoes. Tanya doesn’t wear clothes right off the
rack. There’s not a standard thing about her. 09:43
COMM: This is a hugely important week for Tanya as she’s due to visit her doctor to
discover whether a new treatment she’s receiving is stopping her growth and potentially saving
her life. 09:54
TANYA: I’ve fought my way this far. I can fight my way even further. 10:09
COMM: 27 year-old Igor Vovkovinsky suffers from gigantism and stands at a massive 7ft
8. His height means that everyday things that other people take for granted become an issue
for Igor. Even his transport. 10:24
IGOR: We bought the car almost new off the lot and then we had to drop it off for about
a month at a local chop shop and they had to drop the floors in my car, make them about
six inches lower. 10:50
COMM: While Igor’s height means he’s well known around town, it’s also had a detrimental
affect on his personal relationships. 10:57
IGOR: My social life has been affected drastically. With my friends I’m no longer able to go
and do all the things they do, I usually have to stick to doing indoor things. 11:10
IGOR: Hey, can I please get an original bacon-cheese burger combo? 11:16
SVETLANA: His social life is a really difficult issue for Igor. He never had many friends.
Kids of his age they cant understand his problems, what he goes through, how painful for him
so he doesn’t have many friends. 11:34
COMM: Because of his size Igor’s limbs have to endure excessive weight, making them incredibly
painful. His condition also means that his internal organs grow, putting his heart and
lungs under pressure. Because of this he has to take daily medication. 11:50
DR JAKOBY: Acromegaly has many symptoms. Growth hormone excess affects pretty much every organ
system in the body adversely. Patients with Acromegaly may develop enlargement of the
heart and heart failure and also hypertension. 12:05
COMM: To escape the limitations gigantism has imposed on him, Igor often turns to watching
movies. 12:11
IGOR: I consider myself a little bit of a movie buff… 12:13
COMM: And he wouldn’t say no to his own 15 minutes of fame. 12:19
IGOR: I’ve thought about going into the movies but the movies haven’t thought about
me…no-ones ever called me! 12:31
COMM: Tanya Angus grew up in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas. She considered herself
a ‘normal’ young woman. But gradually she started to notice her body changing and
by the age of 22 she’d been diagnosed with Acromegaly. 12:49
DR OYESIKU: The usual reason people come to attention is because someone, either their
significant other or friend, has noticed changes in their facial features. The patient may
have noticed their shoes get tight, their rings get tight, they just don’t fit anymore.
The glove size changes and the facial features become coarse and they just look different. 13:13
COMM: Now 31, Tanya has to cope with symptoms such as the lowering of her voice, disfigurement
of her face and her continual growth. 13:21
TANYA: It’s every day I have to deal with people looking and whispering, look how big
her hands are, look how big she is. It doesn’t feel good. 13:36
COMM: One of the symptoms of her condition is the continued growth of the hands and feet.
As a result Tanya’s rings no longer fit her fingers. 13:54
COMM: Today, She’s visiting a local jewellers, who have taken on the task of enlarging her
rings. 14:01
JEWELLER: Now it took a little time and as you know it’s one of those things we’ve
got to go through with these. There’s one…and there’s two. 14:09
KAREN: Wow 14:17
TANYA: It fits. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, how much was this? 14:27
KAREN: They made this one for you. 14:28
JEWELLER: That one’s a special one from us to you. 14:31
TANYA: Oh my gosh, you made this for me? 14:34
JEWELLER: That’s right. 14:36
TANYA: Oh my gosh, you are the best. 14:41
JEWELLER: Hey, I’ll come around to you. We just figured that you had a little rough
month there so maybe this will remind you to keep shining, alright? 14:51
COMM: Tanya’s enlarged hands, mean that her new rings are twice the size of her old
ones. 14:58
JEWELLER: In the history of doing jewellery, which is about 18 years, I’ve never had
to do one this large before. I’ve done professional athletes, including basketball players and
wrestlers who don’t have ring fingers that are this size. 15:11
TANYA: I do JEWELLER: You’re so crazy 15:17
COMM: Whilst something as simple as rings may be taken for granted by most, for Tanya,
they signify so much. 15:24
TANYA: A girl does want to wear rings, even if she’s
not married and I couldn’t wear my rings and nobody would make them that big.
KAREN: It makes me very happy to see Tanya wearing
rings because so many people in the world address her as sir and when she has her hands
out and they actually see the girly rings they know she’s a girl. 15:53
COMM: While today has given Tanya a massive boost, in less than a week she’ll be visiting
her doctor for an appointment that could change her life forever. 16:03
KAREN: Whatever it takes we are going to do. 16:10
COMM: Robert Wadlow is known as the Giant of Illinois. Born in 1918, he suffered from
gigantism and at a mind boggling 8ft 11 inches is the tallest man in history. And Wadlow
was still growing when he died because of his condition at the age of just 22. 16:41
COMM: Like Robert Wadlow, Igor Vovkovinsky suffers from Acromegalic gigantism and measures
an incredible 7 feet 8 inches. Because of his height Igor’s house has had to be specially
made to accommodate him. 16:58
IGOR: Well this house was built specially for me. We had to special order all the doors.
They don’t come standard like this and all of our doors are 8 feet high so I don’t
have to bend down when I walk in. The rest of the house is custom too. We have cathedral
ceilings so that I never have to worry about hitting my head. 17:17
COMM: Igor spends a lot of his time playing computer games because they offer him a chance
to escape the limitations of his height. 17:23
IGOR: I can do all these things that I’ll never be able to do in real life, flying,
driving fast cars and motorcycles and snowboarding. All those things I can’t possibly do in
real life, I can do on the computers. 17:38
COMM: Whilst being so tall comes with its problems, Igor’s height has had its plus
points. 17:43
IGOR: Being tall was a benefit a few times and that was when I used to play basketball
when I was in grade school, all my team mates liked the fact that I could get all the rebounds
and shoot the basketball. 17:58
COMM: And his size played an even more pivotal role in 2008 when he met the president of
the United States. 18:08
IGOR: I wanted to meet Barack Obama even before he became president, but after he became president
he came through the Minneapolis target centre. And I met him after waiting in line for about
4 hours, waiting in the crowd. It was a pleasure to shake his hand and it was just one of my
dreams come true. 18:27
COMM: And when he met Barack Obama, Igor had a surprise that made him the talk of the town. 18:32
I just want to make some special acknowledgments. The biggest Obama fan in the country is in
the house. Love this guy. 18:43
IGOR: So that was all great. 18:48
COMM: Having undergone brain surgery at the age of 7 Igor finally stopped growing when
he turned 20. But while the surgery saved Igor’s life, gigantism continues to affect
him massively, as his body will never shrink, putting pressure on his limbs, joints and
internal organs. 19:05
SVETLANA: Nothing in this life will ever be easy for Igor and he is really too big to
be comfortable in this life. But I do hope he will have a happy life. 19:19
COMM: But despite the difficulties and pain that accompany his condition, Igor has finally
accepted his colossal 7ft 8 inch frame. 19:27
IGOR: If I could choose not to be tall or to be tall, I think I wouldn’t exchange
it because it makes me who I am and it makes me believe the things that I believe. I think
everybody was made the made they were made for a reason so I don’t think I want to
change anything. 19:57
COMM: Having been diagnosed with acromegaly aged 22, Tanya Angus underwent a number of
surgeries on her brain tumour. But they were unsuccessful and still she continues to grow.
As a result, Tanya and her doctors have focussed on trying to find a new drug regime that is
capable of combating her high growth hormone levels. 20:17
TANYA: There’s about 30 pills here and I have to take each one every day, sometimes
2, 3, 4 times a day. 20:28
COMM: A healthy person’s growth hormone level is between 50 and 250. Tanya’s has
been as high as 4000 and has never dropped below 1000. 20:39
DR JAKOBY: Tanya’s condition is perhaps more striking because of her duration of illness
and the substantially elevated growth hormone levels which in her case are high even for
a patient with Acromegaly and that’s because Tanya had a very large tumour at initial presentation.
And then it didn’t fully respond to attempts at surgery and radiation therapy. 21:04
KAREN: Right now, with the growth hormone, with it being high, she deteriorates, her
organs grow, everything grows. 21:13
COMM: As well as taking a cocktail of pills, Tanya has to have daily injections in her
stomach to combat her high growth hormone levels. 21:23
KAREN: You ready Tanya? 1,2,3. This burns like a red hot poker. 21:36
COMM: Plus, to combat her growth hormone levels even further once a month she’s injected
with the maximum permitted dose of a very strong drug. 21:44
KAREN: This medication is like petroleum Jelly. It is very, very thick. It comes with a 20
gauge needle. To say the least it leaves a very big hole in her skin. This is the difference.
The medication is like jelly. 22:12
COMM: Despite this being a traumatic experience for Tanya she has agreed to allow us to film
the procedure, which is performed by her sister and her mum, a trained nurse. 22:21
KAREN: Go ahead. Stop. 1, 2, 3. As you see it is bending. Ok it’s coming out. 22:31
TANYA: Ow 22:58
COMM: Whilst this is very painful for Tanya the fact that her body is under so much pressure
because of her growth means that she’s in agony every day, especially her back which
is collapsing because of her weight. 23:10
TANYA: I think I was born to live through pain. You get asked so many times in the hospital-
What’s your pain level? How much pain are you in. You wouldn’t know. You have no idea. 23:32
COMM: Tanya hopes that this drug regime will reduce her growth hormone and stop her growing.
But even if that happens, her body will stay the same size. 23:42
DR JAKOBY: Unfortunately most of Tanya’s pathology is permanent. Many of the joint
problems that Tanya experiences are permanent. Her vertical stature, what we call her Acro-growth
or her growth with arthritis and osteoporosis and pathologies that limit her mobility are
unlikely to improve. 24:02
COMM: But doctors continue to work to bring Tanya’s growth hormone levels under control.
Because if they can’t, her future is clouded in uncertainty. 24:11
TANYA: It doesn’t bother me to talk about dying young. I know I have a very limited
life span. They said 30, I’m 31. Now they’ve said 40, we’ll see. 24:39
DIRECTOR: Did you want to have children? TANYA: I did. I did want to have children.
Unfortunately I can’t do that. I have so many cysts around my ovaries. And if I got
married and that was a big if because I can’t see any man wanting to marry me. 25:33
COMM: 52 year old Mary White lives with her husband Ed in the small town of Coffee, Georgia.
Mary was recently diagnosed with Acromegaly. 25:44
DR. OYESIKU: Mary is a classic case of Acromegaly. She has pretty much all the issues. She has
the changes in physical appearance. The problems with blood sugar control- Diabetes. 25:57
COMM: Mary suffers from the same condition as Igor and Tanya. But because she became
ill after she’d been through puberty, meaning her growth plates were closed, Mary’s growth
is different. Instead of growing very tall, she has founds that her face, hands and feet
have grown. 26:16
MARY: My jaw line is growing, my teeth have are separating, my lip, my bottom lip is growing,
my nose is a little rounder, my tongue is growing, is actually getting thicker, my voice
is getting deeper. 26:37
COMM: Having been diagnosed two months ago, Mary is scheduled to have the tumour that
is causing her growth removed from her brain in two days time. 26:46
MARY: I feel pretty good about the outcome, the physical outcome. I’m going to be normal
or as close to normal as I can get. 26:57
DIRECTOR: Do you not feel normal at the moment then Mary? 27:00
MARY: No absolutely not. As a matter of fact one of my doctors actually told me that he
could have passed me on the street and told that I had this disease. So, it kind of puts
it all in a different eye for me that people can look at me and see things that are not
normal. 27:26
COMM: Mary and Ed will soon be making the five hour journey to a hospital in Atlanta. 27:34
MARY: I’m scared. ED: Of course I am nervous. It’s my wife
that’s having the surgery and I plan on being with my wife for the rest of my life.
This surgery could change allot of things either way so yes I’m nervous. 27:56
COMM: 48 hours time Mary will undergo what she hopes will be life changing surgery. 28:17
COMM: Since being diagnosed with acromegaly 9 years ago Tanya Angus’ life has turned
upside down. Today Tanya’s travelled into Las Vegas to pick up something that most people
take for granted…a pair of shoes. 28:41
TANYA: Oh my gosh, wow. 28:47
COMM: Before she became ill Tanya wore a size 8 shoe. But because she’s grown so much
she now wears a size 15 and it’s impossible for her to find women’s shoes that fit. 28:58
COMM: As a result she has to wear a pair of men’s sandals…and even they’re incredibly
uncomfortable for her. These shoes have been specially designed and made for Tanya by a
local shoemaker. 29:10
TANYA: I love them. I want to go out. I want to go party. 29:16
COMM: Whilst for most people buying shoes is a simple day to day exercise, Tanya’s
new pair means so much. 29:23
TANYA: I love having the shoes. It’s almost like I’m Cinderella. 29:32
COMM: And this is just another small boost that will make a massive difference to her
quality of life. 29:38
TANYA: It feels unbelievable it really does. It’s something I would have never would
have imagined. I though that was a part of my past.
KAREN: I’m so happy 29:59
COMM: Later that day Tanya and her mum are preparing to spend the afternoon being pampered
as they have their nails done. And for Tanya, it’s important to do things that a normal
31 year-old woman would do. 30:15
TANYA: It’s important because it makes me forget about my tumour and it’s no good
sitting around the house just thinking about it. 30:33
COMM: Because of her size, for Tanya something as simple as a manicure / pedicure is an uncommon
occurrence. 30:42
TANYA: Oh my gosh, wow…yeah it feels good, wow. I feel special right now.
KAREN: Oh, look how pretty, very pretty. TANYA: You like them? I do. 31:10
COMM: The kind of attention that Tanya has received today helps her forget about her
medical problems, at least for a while. 31:17
TANYA: The size part you never can drop, even when you’re having a good day but it takes
the medical part away, you know, I’m not seeing any doctors today, I’m not dealing
with the injections or anything else you know, it’s just a laugh and have fun day. 31:42
COMM: Forgetting all about her medical problems is great news but in two days time Tanya will
be visiting her doctor where she’s hoping for even better news about the fight against
her continuing growth. KAREN: This disease could kill Tanya. 32:11
COMM: Atlanta, Georgia is home to one of America’s most prestigious hospitals. The Emory Clinic.
Mary White has recently discovered that she has acromegaly. A condition caused by a tumour
on the pituitary gland inside her brain. 32:31
MARY: Those words, brain tumour would just drop
your jaw, that automatically you think your life is over. 32:48
COMM: Whilst not cancerous, this tumour produces an excess of growth hormone, that means parts
of Mary’s body, such as her lips, skull and hands have started to grow.
Men and women are equally likely to be affected by acromegaly and the average age of diagnosis
is 42. 32:10
MARY: I have not felt normal in my life in so long. 33:14
COMM: Having recently been diagnosed at the age of 52, Mary is a good example of how acromegaly
can affect anyone, at any time. 33:22
DR OYESIKU: To the best of our knowledge nobody’s protected from developing acromegaly. The
majority of patients develop it sporadically, in other words they literally just wake up
and they have the condition. 33:34
COMM: Now she’s scheduled to undergo surgery, that will hopefully stop her body’s growth
and change her life forever. 33:41
MARY: For me personally I hope that it gives me some sort of normalcy to my life. The peace
of mind of knowing that the years that would have been taken away from me have been given
back. 33:55
COMM: Dr. Nelson Oyesiku has performed over 1400 operations on Pituitary tumours. But
still there are risks with any operation inside the brain. 34:07
DR OYESIKU: The risks of surgery in this type of operation include the risk of infection
and on either side of the pituitary gland lies on artery called the carotid artery,
it supplies your brain with blood and if you put your finger on your neck you can feel
the pulse of the carotid artery. And the surgeon operating in this area has to be exceedingly
careful to make sure he doesn’t perturb the carotid artery because of the risk of
bleeding or the risk of stroke. 34:31
COMM: The carotid artery supplies the brain with blood. Disrupting this artery could have
catastrophic consequences. 34:54
COMM: Later that evening, Mary is spending her last night before the operation with her
husband Ed. Having heard how delicate the procedure is,
she’s fully aware of the risks. 34:56
MARY: I still worry about the things that could go wrong, any time you’re inside somebody’s
head and messing about with their brain things could go wrong so it’s only natural to worry
about that. But I’m not going to let it stop me from doing what I know I’ve got
to do. 35:17
COMM: In a few short hours Mary will undergo the operation that she and Ed hope will mark
the beginning of a new life. 35:36
COMM: It’s the morning of Mary’s operation. The time has finally come for the tumour to
be removed from her brain. 35:43
ED: This is very important, I want to be with her forever and with this disease there’s
a possibility that she wouldn’t have but a few more years, you know, maybe six and
I want our life together to be longer than that. 36:00
COMM: Doctors will remove Mary’s tumour through her nose, using a technique called
Endonasal Transphenoidal neurosurgery. Her operation will be carried out by a team of
surgeons led by Dr Nelson Oyeskiku, who is world renowned in his field. 36:17
DR OYESIKU: What we do is we go through the nasal passages
into the sphenoid sinus which leads you to the back of the pituitary gland. And we do
that using an instrument called an endoscope and an endoscope is a tube that about that
long and has light going through it and a lens that obviously allows you to see the
field that you’re working in. 36:43
COMM: As Mary’s wheeled into surgery her emotions are running high. 36:47
MARY: The thought of having the operation scares me, it always has. If I said it didn’t
I’d be lying. You try to put on a brave front but you can’t not visualise or think
about somebody going up inside your head and removing something and not be afraid. 37:08
COMM: Mary’s head has to be clamped in place because there’s no room for error. As well
as avoiding damage to the carotid artery the surgeons also have to be very careful with
Mary’s optic nerve which is situated just millimetres from the pituitary gland and damaging
it could leave Mary with impaired sight. Despite these risks, Mary is hopeful that the surgery
will reverse many of her symptoms. 37:34
MARY: I know I have changed so much, I fought it for so long but I know I’m not the same
person. But I have hope that I will be. 37:47
DR OYESIKU: Most of the soft tissue changes we see in patients, once they go into remission
and they stay in remission, you can actually see those reverse. The things that we have
the most problems with reversing are things like bony structure because those are hard
and fast if you will. 38:16
COMM: Two hours in and the doctors have located the tumour. It’s now a matter of cutting
the growth away without leaving any damage – one slip could cause catastrophic results. 38:29
DR OYESIKU: Cotton ball please. Second specimen. Permanent Adenoma. 38:45
COMM: Finally the tumour is removed. With Doctor Oyesiku taking extra care to avoid
the Carotid artery and optic nerve. 38:58
DR OYESIKU: That’s a growth hormone, see how white it looks. 39:03
COMM: The tumour measures about a centimetre across. Ironic that something so small can
loom so large in someone’s life. 39:13
COMM: After three hours the procedure is over and the operation has gone well. But it will
be 12 weeks before doctors can carry out tests that will prove conclusively whether they’ve
brought Mary’s growth hormone levels under control. 39:37
DR OYESIKU: Hi there Miss White. 39:39
COMM: It’s the day after the operation and Mary is awake, if a little groggy. Dr. Oyesiku
is visiting her to explain how the operation went. 39:51
DR OYESIKU: Everything went just as planned, we didn’t have any problems what so ever.
We found the tumour just like we predicted and we didn’t run into any problems with
the carotid artery or any bleeding so hopefully just a couple of days in the hospital. 40:05
COMM: While the procedure went well, conclusive proof of success will be available with the
results from Mary’s growth hormone test in 12 weeks time. 40:13
DR OYESIKU: If those are good then there’s a very good chance that you’ll stay cured
for the long haul. 40:21
MARY: My whole family, my children, my grandchildren, my husband they want their momma back, they
want their Mary back. They want the same person on the outside that they know is on the inside,
they haven’t had that in a while. 40:35
COMM: And for now the future is already looking brighter for Mary, as Dr. Oyesiku is confident
that the reversal of her physical changes is already underway. 40:44
DR OYESIKU: You will notice your features will get softer. Actually I can also see already
that they’re getting softer. It’s hard to tell for someone who’s not used to seeing
it but once you’ve seen the changes in acromegaly it’s not too difficult to even discern very
subtle changes at a very early stage. 41:03
MARY: I have nothing to do but smile and look forward to the future, I know things are going
to be better, I know they are. 41:14
COMM: The early signs are that Mary’s operation has been a success and she should reap the
benefits. 41:34
COMM: Nine years ago Tanya Angus underwent exactly the same operation that Mary has just
had. But unfortunately doctors were unable to remove all of her tumour, meaning she continues
to grow. Tonight, Tanya’s putting her medical worries behind her, and hitting the highlight
of her home town – the casino! This is a chance for Tanya to get away from everything
and just have a good time with her sister and her mum – who plays a huge role in her
life. 42:08
TANYA: She’s my rock. If I hit the million dollar thing, I would share it with my mum 42:20
COMM: Since being diagnosed aged 22 Tanya has grown over a foot and gained more than
21 stone. But her weight gain has nothing to do with her eating habits. 42:30
TANYA: I have a very small appetite. I never feel like eating. I mean my mom and my sister
have to remind me. Did you eat today? 42:40
COMM: It’s Tanya’s growth hormone that’s responsible for her increased weight and tomorrow
she’s visiting her doctor to get the results of her latest growth hormone test. 42:49
KAREN: If we could get her growth hormone level to be under a thousand her growth would
slow down substantially. Her body would somewhat adjust and not hopefully be as difficult and
a challenge. 43:14
COMM: Later that evening, Tanya is preparing to go to bed. One of the symptoms of acromegaly
is sleep apnoea because patients’ tongues often grow so large they block their airways,
which stops them from breathing. As a result Tanya has to sleep with a machine called a
C-Pap to help her breath at night. As she goes to sleep she’s hoping that the morning
brings some much needed good news. 43:49
COMM: The following day Tanya’s travelled to meet Dr. Michael Jackoby to discover if
her drug regime is slowing her growth. And there’s a lot resting on the consultation. 44:00
KAREN: This disease could kill Tanya. 44:10
COMM: Karen is hoping Tanya’s growth hormone level drops, as they’ve been informed that
this would slow her growth considerably and could increase her life expectancy. 44:20
KAREN: We’re praying that it goes lower. If it
goes higher…it will be very bad news. 44:31
DR JAKOBY: Good afternoon, good to see you again. I’ve got the results of the results
of your IGF1 testing and I’ve got good news. When I first started seeing you your values
were constantly over a thousand sometimes over two thousand. This most recent result
came back at a little over 600, it was 644. 44:52
TANYA: Oh my gosh. DR JAKOBY: So I was quite pleased to see that
it had fallen more than two fold so I’m really happy for you and hopefully that will
translate into you feeling better here in the future. 45:15
KAREN: That’s the best ever. April 25th 2002 it’s never been that low. So that new
drug you introduced her to is working. 45:23
DR JAKOBY: Yeas its working quite well. I was really happy to see how well you responded.
And the nice thing is I think we have more room for improvement too. 45:31
COMM: With the new drug regime seemingly offering hope, Tanya’s future is now more positive
than ever before. 45:37
KAREN: This is like the best Christmas present we could ever have, because this is the first
time since Tanya’s been diagnosed that it has been under 1000 and that means that they
are gaining control. And we’ve never had control of it. 45:58
COMM: Although still above healthy levels, now that her growth hormone has been reduced,
Tanya’s growth should decrease. And while she’ll have to take the drugs for the rest
of her life her doctors feel that there’s room for even more improvement. 46:12
Tanya: It’s so unbelievable. It’s great. It makes me feel like I have a brand new lease
on life. I’m going to take those shots regularly. Heck if I have to I’ll take them twice a
month. I don’t care about the pain. 46:36
COMM: Like Tanya, Mary recently received good news. Twelve weeks after her surgery she returned
to Atlanta for tests. She has now been given the all clear. 46:52
COMM: Igor continues to follow his dream of becoming a lawyer. Although his growth is
under control he has to take medication every day and is still learning to live with the
limitations of his seven foot eight inch frame. 47:10
COMM: Tanya Angus has one of the most extreme cases of acromegaly that doctors have ever
seen. But today’s results offer renewed hope in her battle against this terrible condition. 47:22
TANYA: I won’t ever give up. I wont ever because a friend of mine told me, anything
is possible.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *