By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie
Scroll down for the full story
Katia Page from New Jersey suffers with Lipedema – a chronic disorder that causes fatty tissue to accumulate in mass around the lower body.
To try and prevent her legs from growing further, Katia has started a series of liposuction sessions.
She said: “Before I had any surgeries, my legs were like 50 to 54 inches.”
Early signs from Katia’s treatment show positive results with the swelling in her legs gradually decreasing.
But Doctor Lizzie Gottsegen, who is managing Katia’s progress, knows her patient still has a long way to go.
She said: “There are not many therapists or doctors for that matter that are even aware of this disease.
“If Katia has no surgery, if she had no bandaging, if she had no will to move – Katia would be dead very soon.”
Katia added: “The swelling was at one point so bad that my ankles would be literally hanging all the way over my foot. My biggest fear is becoming immobile because once I can’t move, I know this disease will progress and I could lose my life.”
Katia experiences a daily struggle with people assuming she is overweight because of an unhealthy diet, rather than her life-threatening disease that she can do nothing to prevent.
But no matter what negativity is thrown her way, Katia still has her dream wedding to look forward to with her fiancé.
“I’m smart, I’m educated, I can cook and I’m a good catch! You’d be a fool not to want me,” she said.
“I’m engaged and we’re going to get married soon. And to be honest with you, he loves me anyway, but I just want to look my best.”
By the time 36-year-old Katia discovered the true diagnosis of her disease just a year ago, she was already at stage four and her legs were around 50 inches wide.
She said: “It started getting noticeable when I was about seven, but it really started exploding when I got into my early 20s.
“It’s the last stage and it’s just drastic. Some days I’ll be in so much pain that I can’t really do anything.
“It’s bad when your calf is bigger than your waistline. One calf – not both – but one.”
Katia’s Godmother, Diana Mendheim, knows exactly how much this wedding means to Katia and believes it is vital for her to have something special to look forward to.
She said: “Katia has been through a lot. She needs someone to take care of her now. She needs to be the one in the spotlight.
“Now she’s going to have her wedding. Just seeing her in her gown and happy, that’s my goal for her.”
Katia’s most recent bout of surgery did not go to plan, with Doctor David Greuner having to stop proceedings earlier than expected due to a substantial loss of blood.
He said: “She’ll probably require 10-12 procedures to really get her down to a manageable level over the course of about three to four years.
“But I’m relatively happy so far with what we have accomplished with a seemingly insurmountable task.”
Doctor Greuner plans to set Katia’s current situation back 15 years and he believes this is achievable with Katia’s positive attitude and determination to fight for her health.
Katia said: “I just want to be around to have a long life. Who wants to get married and then pass away on their mate?
“I really do still enjoy life regardless of the fact I might have this disease.”
Katia is appearing in My Legs Won’t Stop Growing on TLC Monday 25 July (USA only)