A 22-year-old woman who is ‘stuck’ inside the body of a little girl is documenting her struggle to be treated as an adult despite her appearance in the new TLC reality series ‘I Am Shauna Rae.’
Shauna Rae’s stunted growth was a side effect of her surviving brain cancer as an infant. At 3 feet, 10 inches tall, she is the average height of an eight-year-old and is frequently mistaken for a child.
‘If you were to look at me, you would think I’m just a normal little girl, doing normal little girl things with my fun, crazy family,’ she says in the trailer for her new show, which premieres on January 11.
Shauna Rae is a 22-year-old woman who is ‘stuck’ in the body of a child after cancer treatment stunted her growth
She is documenting her struggle to lead a normal adult life in the new TLC reality series ‘I Am Shauna Rae,’ which premieres on January 11
At 3 feet, 10 inches tall, she is the average height of an eight-year-old and is frequently mistaken for a child
‘But the truth is I’m not a little girl. I’m a woman, a 22-year-old woman stuck in the body of an eight-year-old.’
Shauna was six months old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and underwent chemotherapy.
‘My pituitary gland was rendered almost dormant because of the chemotherapy,’ she explains. ‘The doctor told me I was done growing. My bones were fused, and my height is 3 feet and 10 inches.’
The docuseries follows Shauna as she attempts to go to bars, get a tattoo, and work out at a gym. During each instance, she is mistaken for a child.
Shauna was six months old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and underwent chemotherapy that stunted her growth
‘My pituitary gland was rendered almost dormant because of the chemotherapy,’ she explains in the show’s trailer. ‘The doctor told me I was done growing’
Shauna’s mom tearfully admits that she feels ‘almost guilty’ that she will struggle for the rest of her life because of her appearance
Shauna feels her parents are too overprotective and is trying to assert her independence
Her youthful appearance has also made dating extremely difficult.
‘My relationship status is single,’ she says. ‘I attract creeps, a**holes, and idiots. It is scary to put myself out there, but you have to put some risk in to get happiness.’
When Shauna meets a blind date, he confesses that he thought he was ‘being punked or something’ after she walked up and introduced herself.
Shauna’s mom tearfully admits in the trailer that it is has been difficult watching her grapple with adulthood.
Shauna has to stand on a chair just to put her makeup on in the bathroom
The trailer shows her being told that children can’t sit at the bar when she tries to order a drink
She gets a similar response from a gym employee who also mistakes her for a child
‘I feel, I guess, almost guilty that she will have to go through this for the rest of her life,’ she says. ‘So all I can do is protect her.’
However, Shauna feels her parents are too overprotective. At one point, her father gives her the third degree before she heads to a brewery with friends.
‘I do desire more independence from my family because I can’t go anywhere without them asking questions,’ she says.
When her pals pick her up, she explains that her parents plan on buying her a house with an addition for her to live in.
When she goes in a blind date, the guy admits that he thought he was ‘being punked’ when she introduced herself
Throughout the trailer, she is seen enjoying some cocktails, just like any other woman her age
‘I’m determined to make this year my year to shine,’ Shauna says
‘No. You have to tell them no,’ her friend insists.
The trailer also shows her taking a pole dancing lesson and enjoying some cocktails, just like any other woman her age.
While sipping champagne, she says she has been told she is a ‘fun drunk.’
‘I don’t know if I am ready to let her go, but she needs to be let go,’ her mom says.
‘I’m determined to make this year my year to shine,’ Shauna adds.
HOW CANCER TREATMENT CAN SLOW GROWTH IN CHILREN
It is common for a child to experience slowed growth following cancer treatment, especially if it is done at a young age.
Chemotherapy can contribute to a slow-down in growth, but the change is often short term if it is given alone, without radiation. However, certain chemotherapy drugs have longer-lasting effects when given in high enough doses.
Stunted growth and development are often linked to radiation therapy, which directly affects the growth of bones in the treated area. It can also occur if the pituitary gland is damaged during radiation or surgery.
The pituitary gland is sometimes called the ‘master gland’ of the endocrine system because it controls metabolism, growth, sexual maturation, reproduction, blood pressure, and other physical functions.
Damage to the endocrine glands such as the pituitary can create hormone changes that may slow a child’s growth. Bones, height, and sexual development at puberty may also be affected.
Very young children are most likely to be affected, and the slowing of growth is typically seen within five years of treatment.
Growth hormones can sometimes reverse effects on growth caused by damage to the pituitary gland, but the treatment comes with its own set of risks and side effects.
Source: American Cancer Society