Kate “The Princess Fiona Years” — a Tale of Acromegaly

Kate Beddow
4 min readJun 28, 2018
Kate and her sister, who have always been almost identical facially.

I was fatigued, in constant pain and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t having a period even though I had come off my pill 5 months earlier. That was almost 10 years ago and it feels like it happened to another person now.

My doctor told me he would refer me to the hospital and they would “switch me back”, not quite what a girl wants to hear when she is desperate for another baby.

My daughter was almost three when I finally heard the words “Mrs Beddow you have a pituitary tumour”. I didn’t even know where my pituitary gland was and I didn’t hear a word of the rest of the speech the consultant gave me, I just walked home in a daze.

I had acromegaly.

It is an incredibly rare disease caused by a tumour on your pituitary gland which causes you to produce too much growth hormone. That would explain the 6 ring sizes, 4 shoe sizes and 3 dress sizes I had gone up since my daughter was born then. They recommended I went back through photos to see if my face had changed. Of course it had, but I had had a baby, turned thirty, I just assumed I had let myself go and put some weight on.

Looking back, the changes were a bit more dramatic than that. The photos below are me aged: 19, 31, 34 years. This is where the phrase “Kate the Princess Fiona Years” was born. As my husband decided it was like the scene in Shrek where Fiona changes when the sun goes down. Fortunately for me, the sun did come back up. It doesn’t for everyone.

In November 2007 I had a transsphenoidal hypophysectomy (surgery up my nose to remove the tumour, but I memorised the long word so I could sound clever!). Within hours my body started to return to normal. Having been told by several medical professionals that the growth I had experienced was bone growth and was irreversible I wasn’t expecting quite such a dramatic result. I was also told that I wouldn’t be able to have any more children. Less than six months after my surgery I fell pregnant with my son (now 8 years old) and I even managed to breast feed him successfully until he was 13months old.

Kate Beddow

Words have power. Writer, coach, therapist and speaker. I work with women to create calmer, happier lives.