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Michelle's Story

I've danced since I was 3, so I have pretty much done it my whole life. I was always really skinny, people would even ask if I was anorexic!! My 11th grade year of high school I had been accepted to a performing arts school, my major was going to be dance. I was soo excited about it. The summer before I entered 11th grade, I rapidly gained atleast 30 pounds. My mom got really concerned and took me to a doctor after the first 15 pounds were gained within less than a month. No one could understand why I was gaining it so fast, my diet hadn't changed at all. I went to 2 different doctors, both testing my thyroid.

Then someone suggestested I go see a man who specialized in diabetes and thyroids. He began testing me, and scheduled an MRI. In that MRI he found a small tumor on my pituitary gland. He told me there was a chance it could have been caused by a disease he refered to as Cushings. He then asked me to lay on the table. He pulled up my shirt, and looked at the marks me and my mother had claimed to be stretch marks. He asked if I had been bruising, and if my face had always been that round. My mother showed him a picture of me taken just a few months before. He asked if I had began to feel weaker, and how my moods and temper were. He then gave me a 24 hour urine study, where I had to take a pill at a certain time, then collect all my urine throughout a time span of 24 hours. When those test results came back he referred me to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

My weight wouldn't quit going up, it gradually slowed down, but I was still gaining. I didn't even want to dance anymore because I felt as if I was the largest person in the room. That says alot, because dancing was my life. It was what relieved my stress, made me feel good..and now it just made me miserable b/c I knew I would have to show myself to people. I finally ended up out of the dance program at my school and had to change my major to writing.

At Vanderbilt, the doctor I was sent to confirmed I had cushings disease. He then sent me to a surgeon who told me and my parents all of my options. We scheduled to have my pituitary tumor removed on June 23, 2005.

I went through with the surgery, I was alot more brave then I thought I was...I went home about a week after surgery. When I went back to visit the doctor though, things still were not better. I was still gaining weight. At this time, I had went from 115 lbs (before I began gaining) to about 175. This was in about a year span! It was now the summer before my Senior year in high school, and I didn't know how I was going to face school! I couldn't dance, and if I couldn't dance I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to answer peoples questions about my disease or what was wrong with me, most people thought I was lying. I didn't want to explain to people why I was getting so large. I ended up being homebound my entire senior year of high school.

When visiting the doctor, we had another MRI done. There were still tumor cells on my pituitary gland. I was scheduled for Radio Active Surgery in January of 2006. I had it done, screws in my head, halo, everything. My best friend and my parents stood by me the whole time.

I graduated High School last month, May 20, 2006. I missed my whole Senior year due to this disease. I have ended up with a guy I've known since 10thg grade, before I was sick, who has wanted to be with me even when I wasn't over weight, moody, sick...and who still wants to be with me now. Because of him, and my best friend (who now dances with me in private classes, so I won't have to give up something I loved so much), I may have missed my senior year, but I didn't miss my prom, my senior banquet, or my graduation. I walked across the stage, and even though now I am 199 pounds, and still gaining, and waiting to see what the doctor has to say this Monday...I have to keep in mind that everything happens for a reason. Maybe this happening to me so young was to help me for the future. It has definitely influenced my career goals. I've always wanted to be a nurse, but now I do more than ever. I want to be able to help people the way my nurses have helped me. Yes, I will be glad when they get it all, if they ever do, and I will be glad when the Cushings in gone. I want to lose weight, and feel comfortable in my own body. I want to be able to go out with my friends, and my now fiancé' and do things, and not get tired and weak way before everyone else. I want to feel like a person my age, 18.

Update July 26, 2007

After my radioactive surgery, I just went back to the doctor on July 7, 2007. My tumor seems to be smaller and now the doctor says all I need is hormone replacements!

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