Wondergirl Tash beats the odds
PUBLISHED: 08:47 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 22:15 15 June 2010
AT four foot two inches Natasha Gould is standing tall, having overcome adversity to pass all her GCSEs.
AT four foot two inches Natasha Gould is standing tall, having overcome adversity to pass all her GCSEs.The 16-year-old Axe Valley Community College student had been feeling very ill and tired for a long time, and was diagnosed with cancer of the pituitary glands - while she was sitting her exams.At the same time she received a double blow, learning she had diabetes insipidus. Not producing enough antidiuretic hormone, she was constantly thirsty and the disease added to her tiredness.A rare type of cancer, only 50 people a year in the UK are said to be diagnosed with Langerhan's cell histiocytosis (LCH).Usually only found in children, it has destroyed Natasha's hormones, stunting her growth. Often mistaken for an eight-year-old child, it is feared Natasha will never be able to have children.But in the face of such misfortune, a brave Natasha decided to make the best of a bad situation."It was really hard," she said. "I felt like I didn't want to do anything, but at the same time I wanted to get into college and get on with life."After over two years of investigating the cause of Natasha's lack of growth and illness, her mother Claire was overjoyed with the good news."Natasha ran over to me screaming 'I've passed!'. We hugged, I was so tearful," she said."She's been to hell and back and I'm absolutely thrilled and so proud of her. She put her heart and soul into those exams. She was really ill but wanted to prove she could do it."When she was diagnosed it was a deep shock. I was numb. I though 'it can't happen to one of mine'. When I started crying I couldn't stop. But Natasha is a fantastic person and we supported each other."Her determination is amazing. We would have been proud of her regardless of her marks. She's very special to us."Natasha's childlike appearance belies her true maturity - causing people to treat her inappropriately."When people say she looks like a child it breaks her heart," said Mrs Gould. "She sees other teenage girls of an average height, drinking and having fun. But she can't do that - as she's on so much medication. She feels it's not fair and she's missing out."It's been hard for her to find weekend work as employers think she looks small and frail. Everyday in the outside world is a battle for her. She's been bullied because of her size and the whole thing has knocked her self esteem."Now taking injections of growth hormones and oestrogen, it is hoped Natasha will eventually grow to her natural height.The cancer is still active and doctors are trying to determine how and when to treat it. Although currently clear, it is feared the cancer could spread.Mrs Gould said: "It's like a time bomb. We used to worry about Natasha's height, but now the cancer is our real concern."We don't know what the future holds and have to live each day as it comes - and have as much fun as we can."Natasha will now go on to study animal care at Bicton College. One day she hopes to be a vet or a zoo keeper.And, if there is not a change in Natasha's stature, then at least there has been some change in people's attitudes towards her.Natasha said: "I used to be bullied a lot at school. But I think people have got to know me now and like me and accept me. It's not about size anymore."Head of drama Peter Ludbrook said: "Tash has been a remarkable student and has done fantastically well. I'm very proud for her."Mrs Gould said her husband and family network helped them get through the trauma. She also wanted to thank all the teachers at the school, particularly Liz Pinfield and Dr Graham, for all their support.