Mandy Sellars Vows to Walk Despite Rare Illness
March 5, 2013
Mandy Sellars from Lancashire, England, is a slim size 12 on top, with a tiny waist and toned arms.
But a rare condition has caused the 38-year-old’s bottom half to grow out of all proportion.
Mandy’s legs are nearly 2m wide or the equivalent of a dress size 34.
She can never wear skirts or dresses and has to have trousers made by her mum. She has lived with stares, sniggers and rude comments all her life after being born with the condition.
But Mandy is determined not to let any of this hold her back. She said: “When I go out people stare or laugh but it doesn’t bother me.
“It won’t stop me living my life. I’m proud to have this condition and hopefully I can help others feel more confident.”
Mandy was born with a rare form of Proteus Syndrome, believed to have affected “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick. Her specific condition only affects ten other people worldwide.
Mandy, of Accrington, Lancashire, said: “My parents treated me like any other child. If I wanted to climb a tree, they let me do it. It was only in my teenage days that I really became aware I was different from other people.
“That was a difficult time. But you accept yourself more as you get older.”
At their biggest, Mandy’s legs weighed around 17 stone. She had part of her left leg amputated in January 2010 after contracting blood poisoning.
She said: “It was always so much heavier than my right and made it difficult to move but even after the amputation my leg continued to grow. At its widest it was a metre in circumference.”
Now specialist Dr Robert Semple and his team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge believe they have isolated the gene that causes Mandy’s condition and have developed medication to halt the growth.
Since she has been taking the pills, her legs have shrunk by a stone and a half.
“I’m still trying to walk and hopefully that will happen,” she said.
Mandy lives a full and mostly independent life despite being confined to a wheelchair. “I look after myself, cook, wash and dress myself,” she said.
“Friends and family help out too and there’s always someone popping round. People come for dinner at weekends and I go to the cinema – we’re going clay pigeon shooting on my birthday.”
She added: “In my younger days I’d go out clubbing. I’m sure people stared, but we would just dance and have fun.
“There are certain things I find difficult but I don’t mind not being able to do the washing up! But I would love to go on a plane somewhere.” And she joked: “Maybe Simon Cowell could take me on his private jet!”
The condition has not affected her love life. “I’ve had two long-term boyfriends,” she said. “I’m single at the moment, but if I wanted to date, I can’t see that being a problem.
“I just want to be happy and healthy. I doubt there will ever be a cure for me but hopefully there will be for others like me in future.”
Sign up for updates straight to your inbox.