A woman who couldn’t stop growing due to a rare disease died on Monday, the Associated Press reported.
Tanya Angus was told she had the perfect body as a teenager-- she stood at 5 feet inches and strutted down Las Vegas fashion runways. But when she died at just 34 years old, Angus was 7 feet 2 inches and nearly weighed 400 pounds.
Angus suffered from a rare disease called acromegaly — or as it’s best known gigantism. She couldn’t stop growing.
"'Mom, I don't know why I got it,'" Karen Strutynski recalled her daughter saying, when speaking to the AP. "'But, I guess God decided that I could handle it.'"
Angus appeared on television specials and in the news over a condition that left her face misshapen and gave her constant growing pains.
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The disorder occurs when there is too much growth hormone in the body, triggered by a non-cancerous tumor that grows on the pituitary gland. This causes the body’s bones and organs to continue to grow.
Acromegaly essentially affected every part of Angus’ life. She wasn’t even able to pull the largest shirt over her head because it couldn’t fit through the collar. The victim of the cruel disease needed special made shoes and even had her jewelry stretched to fit her size 20 fingers.
"There's nothing made for giants," her mother explained to the AP.
Naturally, people judged her daughter, Strutynski recalled, because they thought she was using a wheelchair due to lacking the discipline to watch her weight. But those who judged her for her size didn’t know that she only ate one meal and day, it was because of her medications that her face was so swollen.
"People were very cruel until she went into the media," Strutynski said.
When she became recognized, Angus was able to become an advocate for others with the disease and eventually wound up corresponding with people from nearly 60 different countries to help them get their treatment they needed.
According to her mother, she believed it was her mission to help people get diagnosed before the disease took over their bodies and it was too late, her mother said.
It’s believed that Angus died after she caught a cold and developed a tear in her big heart, but the autopsy is still pending, multiple media reports said.
Her mother said that she plans to continue corresponding and helping patients who struggle with the disease on Angus’ website.
"We can't let it end. It's just too important," Strutynski said, fighting back tears. "We can't just let it die with Tanya."