The Model Who Smells Like Dead Fish

One woman's struggle with a rare disorder that produces a fishy smell.

ByABC News
August 8, 2006, 12:43 PM

March 7, 2008 — -- Editor's note: This story originally aired on "Primetime" on Aug. 9, 2006.

Camille has beauty and brains.

She's a former model and a Phi Beta Kappa with a master's in education. There's a part of her, though, that's not so perfect.

She smells like spoiled fish.

Camille says when she taught, students wouldn't come near her.

"They would say things like, 'Ew, this classroom stinks like dead fish.' They would call me 'Miss Fishy.'"

She asked that her last name not be used because telling her story was difficult for her. Camille described the odor as "a very heavy, intense, dark, deep smell."

"I didn't know why I was emitting such a strong odor. I mean, it can fill an entire room. Recently, it filled an auditorium," Camille said.

Her job as a teacher became excruciating.

"I was so focused on 'Do I smell? Do I smell? Are they saying things? Are they whispering? Are they laughing about me?'"

No matter what she does, Camille says she can't cover the smell. Neither showers nor perfume helps.

Camille has a medical mystery that she's struggled to understand for nearly 30 years.

It took her self-esteem and was taking her profession. She says she was often in a state of panic.

"I would open windows. I would leave the door open. I'd put fans in my classrooms. I mean the whole nine yards," Camille said.

She also felt a tremendous amount of pain. "I would cry all the way home from school. All the time."

Her childhood was no easier because Camille's ordeal began in first grade.

"One of my teachers asked me if I was showering every day. From that point on, she kind of sat me in the corner of the classroom. Kids would call me a freak. They would tell me I smelled like horse manure [and] dead fish."