Actor Gino Anthony Pesi from the TV show “Shades of Blue” and the movie “42” stated in an interview with Variety that after years of pain and suffering, he began to suspect he had a rare disease — acromegaly.
“When I was shooting “42,” I was going through terrible medical issues. Over the course of five years, there was a list of about 10 symptoms I had, and my health was declining in many ways. I had been to five different doctors and they were all telling me that it was symptoms of old age.”
Not believing that diagnosis (he was 32 years old), Pesi started to do some research.
According the Pesi:
“I sat down and taught myself everything, looked everything up, and then I saw that something was maybe slightly off with one of my hormones. I thought, Well, they didn’t test my growth hormones. So I paid for my own lab work. The test came back really high. I walked the results into the doctor’s office and I said, “I think I have a tumor in my pituitary, and I think it’s caused a disease in my body called acromegaly.”
The diagnosis was confirmed and the tumor removed. Pesi noted that he has his blood work taken every 6 months to see if the tumor has returned but in the meantime, he views the whole experience as a positive one.
“I look at that as the greatest gift I’ve had. I can refer to how I felt in that moment and use it as a point of reference in my life. The perspective I walked away with was life-changing.”
What is Acromegaly
Acromegaly is a rare endocrine disorder due to excess production of growth hormone (GH). In most cases, the disease is caused by a benign tumor on the pituitary gland. Typical symptoms include the enlargement of hands, feet and facial features. Acromegaly is also associated with increased mortality rates as well as serious health complications, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. Worldwide, the prevalence of acromegaly is estimated to be 60 – 295 cases per million.
Surprisingly, the striking features associated with acromegaly do not correspond to a quick diagnosis. It can often take over 10 years to get proper diagnosis.
Below is an interview with Maria Fleseriu, MD, Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, who describes the pathophysiology of acromegaly and how it is currently managed.