As a baby, Brooke Greenberg would grow at a normal rate one month, and then stop entirely the next. Born one month prematurely and weighing just four pounds, her unpredictable growth continued until she was 5 years old -- that's when Brooke stopped growing altogether. For nearly two decades, doctors have remained baffled by her rare condition, ultimately labeling it "Syndrome X." Sadly, the young woman died last week at age 20 and although, physically, she was the size of a toddler and had the diminutive facial features of a young child, her family says she had the heart of a giant.
Brooke's family wasn't surprised by her death -- for years they had been told by doctors to prepare for it and had even picked out a casket and clothing for her funeral years ago. I can't even imagine the nightmare of having to live each day not knowing if it was my daughter's last. But boy, do Brooke's parents and three sisters sound like they possess an incredible amount of inner strength. They didn't dwell on the bad, but instead found positives about their situation with Brooke.
Her mom says the older she got, the more "unbelievable" Brooke became. Mentally, she retained the language and learning abilities of a toddler, but she also craved independence and her family watched as she developed an interest in the Baltimore Ravens and grew more and more affectionate with the people around her. She attended a special school that offered art and music classes, as well as physical therapy.
It's sad but understandable that doctors don't have a whole lot of information about "Syndrome X" after studying Brooke's DNA. I'm sure diseases this rare take decades to comprehend. Here's what we do know about it, based solely on Brooke's experiences:
As a young child, she suffered several unexplained medical emergencies such as stomach ulcers, a seizure, a stroke, and a mass in her brain that docs thought was brain cancer -- until it mysteriously disappeared.
Specialists were unable to diagnose any known genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormalities.
Her family tried to give her a growth hormone, but it had no effect on Brooke.
Best wishes and healing go out to Brooke's family and I hope they know what a difference they made in the life of this young woman.
What are your thoughts on Brooke's mysterious condition?
Image via YouTube