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A woman who suffered from a rare condition which made her grow into a 6ft 11ins giant has died suddenly at the age of 34.
Tanya Angus, from Las Vegas, spent the last 12 years trying to find a cure for her acromegaly, which meant she couldn’t stop growing.
Until the age of 21, Tanya was just 5ft 8ins tall and weighed 130lbs. She rode horses, went dancing and had a boyfriend.
Rare disorder: Tanya Angus was a slender 5ft 8 and 130lbs as a teenager, pictured here in 1995 (left). By 2010 (right), she was 6ft 6in and more than 400lbs. She died suddenly today at the age of 38
An inspiration: Tanya Angus celebrates her 34th birthday with a friend on November 27, 2012
Struggle: Miss Angus has died at the age of 34 after her heart failed due to her extreme size
But a tumour became wrapped around her pituitary gland, causing massive amounts of growth hormone to be released into her body.
Tanya, who became wheelchair-bound, had the most extreme form of acromegaly ever seen, growing to nearly 7ft tall, and more than 400lbs.
Ms Angus, who had been working as a supervisor at a Walmart in Michigan, was fired from her post when her condition worsened, and was dumped by her boyfriend when his parents questioned whether she was a man.
But she never gave up searching for a treatment to halt her incredible growth and hoped she could one day have a more normal life.
In August last year, it seemed like Tanya and her family had finally seen a breakthrough, when a blood test revealed that her growth hormone levels had fallen at last.
Tanya’s mother Karen Strutynski said at the time: ‘For the first time ever, Tanya’s blood level for her disease is in the normal range.
‘It gives us renewed hope and will give other people renewed hope.
New treatment: The 34-year-old was given renewed hope for her condition last year but it was not to last
The good news was short-lived. Tanya’s Insulin-like Growth Factor levels, which had fallen from 3,000 at the worst of her condition to just 283, had started to creep back up into the 500’s. The normal range for a healthy person is around 250.
It is thought the extreme pressure on her body, caused by 12 years of coping with her huge size, caused her heart to fail.
A notice on Tanya’s website, which has inspired and helped acromegaly sufferers around the world, reads simply: ‘It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing on of our beloved Tanya Angus at 12.25am on January 14, 2013, due to her heart and TIA. RIP dear one’
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a type of mini-stroke, caused when the blood flow to the brain stops for a period of time.
Tanya had suffered a number of TIAs in recent years.
Describing her acromegaly last year, Tanya said: ‘Sometimes I feel really down about it but to me the most important thing is that I have to tell people about it.
‘I read emails that people send in saying: ”You’re my inspiration,” or, ”You are so strong.”
‘If I am helping other people, I feel I can do anything.’
Tanya, whose condition caused her to spend many hours sleeping, found her outlet through her website, which helped her gain friends around the world.
Last year, she was able to meet some of them for the first time at an Acromegaly Conference in Las Vegas, where fellow sufferers told Tanya how hearing her story had caused them to seek early treatment, and possibly saved their lives.
During the last 12 years, Tanya underwent three operations to attempt to remove her tumour, but several different surgeons were unable to reach part of the growth, as it was wrapped around her inner carotid artery.
Her heart, lungs and the joints of her limbs continued to grow as she gained weight and height, causing huge strain on her body.
Healthier times: Before her acromegaly diagnosis, Ms Angus was a keen horserider
Her mother Karen and stepfather Allan continued to search for new ways of tackling her condition, and last year doctors finally agreed to double the dose of Tanya’s growth inhibitor medication, which was administered by painful injections into her spine.
The treatment seemed to finally be working, until the sad news in October that her growth hormone levels were rising again.
Tanya, talking in 2009 about the slow onset of her growth said: ‘I couldn’t understand why, as I wasn’t eating more. What was strange was that my feet seemed to grow as well. My face also started to swell and was changing.
‘I felt unhappy with my appearance and spent a fortune on make-up. My figure also started to change and become more manly and my voice became deeper.’
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