Woman With Gigantism Too Big To Get to Hospital for Surgery

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?'"

VIDEO: Tanya Angus is dreading a fifth surgery to remove a tumor caused by acromegaly.
Tanya Angus: The Pain of Battling Gigantism

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.'"

The Big Get Bigger
What If You Never Stopped Growing?

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 causes it to secrete excessive growth hormone, according to the Pituitary Network Association.

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