Published: 00:01, 04 August 2017 |
In her early 20s, Lauren Bates, from New Romney, outgrew her shoes, and battled weight gain and headaches.
She was diagnosed with a rare condition called acromegaly aged 24, when a consultant doctor compared old and new Facebook photos.
He noticed in previous snaps Lauren’s nose was smaller and she had less tissue on her face.
A scan revealed a benign tumour pushing against her pituitary gland, causing stimulation of a growth hormone.
The ex-Southlands school pupil, now aged 26, is now trying to raise awareness of the condition and is also holding a fundraising festival later this month.
She explained: “I was buying new shoes all the time because my old ones were too tight.
“I thought your feet would stop growing when you reached adulthood, but mine just wouldn’t stop.
“I just didn’t understand what was happening.
“I’m not in remission yet, the disease is very active but I’m on a course of drugs which hopefully should get my condition under control.”
Lauren’s feet grew from a size six when she was 17 to a size nine when she was 24.
Initially, she says complaints of migraines and weight gain were dismissed by medical professionals, who put it down to her mobile phone and a lack of exercise.
“It was so confusing. At one point I was surviving off a melon a day and I was doing a lot of exercise – but nothing was changing.
“I thought maybe this was just me, and that maybe everyone is like this. So I decided to go
But after a year Lauren’s symptoms worsened forcing her to return home in 2015, where a fresh visit to her GP opened the pathway for treatment.
She was referred to a specialist consultant at Buckland Hospital in Dover who asked to look at old photos Facebook photos.
She continued: “He asked me if I’d heard of acromegaly but I hadn’t, and he didn’t want to go into it because it hadn’t been confirmed.
“And I didn’t want to look it up because I’m just not that kind of person.”
Scans revealed a tumour the size of a credit card growing around her optic nerve.
"I thought your feet would stop growing when you reached adulthood, but mine just wouldn't stop" - Lauren Bates
Following a series of brain surgery operations, radiotherapy and drug treatments at St Thomas’ hospital, Lauren has returned to a normal life.
She said: “I’m now hairdressing again part-time. I would love to travel again, but I can’t at the moment with my condition.
“At the moment I want to use my life to raise awareness and help others with the disease.”
Alongside her friends Lauren has organised a music festival at the Farriers Arms pub in Mersham.
Dubbed ‘Donate’, the event, taking place on August 26, from 2pm, will feature a DJ tent, acoustic music, crafts, barbecue and more.
Tickets cost £5, with proceeds going to the Pituitary Foundation.
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