Turning into a Giant

2009, Society  -  50 min Leave a Comment
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Turning into a Giant presents a "day-in-the-life" perspective of a handful of patients living with Acromegalic Gigantism, or Acromegaly, a condition which results from a tumor on the pituitary gland and causes an extreme surge in growth hormone.

We meet Igor, a patient diagnosed at six months of age who towered over his parents by age seven. In a childhood photograph shared with the filmmakers, Igor's mother looks to be a doll in proportion to him. Due to a lack of treatment options in his native Ukraine, Igor and his mother moved to the States in the hopes of finding better health care for his condition. Igor invites the audience into his home, which was specially designed to accommodate his nearly eight foot tall frame.

Tanya (deceased on January 14, 2013), a young woman from Nevada, was diagnosed with Acromegaly at the age of 22, causing her to experience a drastic change in her physical appearance. Her weight increased, her face contorted, her hands and feet continuously grow, and she now relies on a wheelchair for transportation. She shares her experience as someone who once blended in with other women her age but now garners unwelcome stares and comments from strangers. Those with Acromegaly are at a higher risk of heart problems and early death, meaning Tanya must take a daily cocktail of pills plus daily and monthly injections to manage chronic pain and other complications.

Mary White, a more recently diagnosed patient, explains the differences in the condition when it sets in after puberty. Whereas Igor and Tanya were diagnosed prior to puberty, causing drastic increases in height, Mary's diagnosis came post-puberty, causing an expansion of width. Her teeth and eyes moved farther apart, her nose broadened, and her tongue became thicker. Speaking to Mary two months post-diagnosis and two days prior to surgery to remove the gigantism-causing tumor, the filmmakers are granted access to the operating room when the growth is removed.

Turning into a Giant is an intimate portrait of these three patients, shedding light on an uncommon condition that carries great consequences for those who have it while offering insight into some of the treatment options that are currently available.