Famous people with Acromegaly
Famous people with acromegaly
Patients with disfiguring illnesses often encounter dramatic changes to their physical appearance. Such is the case with acromegaly; a disorder of the endocrine glands caused by increased growth hormone secretion. In most cases, this step-up occurs as a result of a benign tumor on the pituitary gland and most commonly effects middle aged men and women between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Other than a prior history of pituitary tumors, there are no other known risk factors and is often not readily apparent due to nature of the disease's slow progression.
In the acromegalic patient, there is a gradual and slow increase in bone and tissue growth. Some of the most notable symptoms include the following:
Increase in the size of the hands and feet
Enlargement of the nose, lips and eye ridge
Increased spacing between the teeth
Broadening of the chin, Jaw, and cheekbones
Thickened, oily skin
Coarsening of the hair
Thickened tongue and soft tissue of the mouth resulting in sleep apnea and deepening of the voice.
These are but a few of the most noticeable external changes. Often, people don't notice until it is brought to their attention by comparison of past and present photographs. Even then, people assume the changes are a normal part of aging and fail to have themselves examined by a physician.
Although it is a rare disease, it is not as if most of the world have not been introduced to many of it's victims whose faces graced the silver screens of the past and present. Most of us remember them most by the name of their character as opposed to their names;
Lurch from the Adams family played by Carel Struyken
Herman Munster played by Fred Gwynne
Andre the Giant
Jaws from the Bond Movies played by Richard Kiel
Svetlana Singh-India's tallest woman
Paul Wright aka The big show
Tanya Angus-well known activist for the illness
The late Kevin Aucoin- well renown make up artist
De Fen Yao -the worlds tallest woman
With the exception of the last three names mentioned, all of the people were cast as “freaks” of some sort which makes it that much more difficult for the real live victims of this illness. I commend them for turning a negative into a positive. Yet, I could only imagine how it would feel to have someone randomly walk up to me, and tell me that I look like Lurch from the Adams family. Often onlookers forget the humanity of these people and do some very unseemily, cruel things. They gawk, stare and sometimes point. If the patient is a woman, her femininity is questioned aloud as people assess her hands and feet, with squeels of laughter while whispering and staring. Hopefully, you have never been so cruel.
Treatment options for acromegaly include removal of the offending tumor, radiation treatments, and pharmacological therapy, tailored to meet the symptomatic needs of the patient. The goal of treatment is removal of the tumor in order to alleviate the pressure on the pituitary glad, reduce and return to normal the secretion of the growth hormone, and to reduce or improve symptoms of acromegaly. In addition, there are now plastic surgeons who can perform restorative and corrective surgery, although it is somewhat costly.
The goal of this article is to spread awareness of this illness and in turn prevent at least one victim from potential ridicule. Just as it is rude to stare, it is also rude to comment. Yet it doesn't stop most from doing so. The euphemisms; unusual looking, strange face, interesting face, disfigured, distinctive features, facial difference, weird looking may make you feel better about the condition but for the person with acromegaly, they can be psychologically debilitating. Please, pass the word along.