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23rd Sep 2022

Woman, 22, explains how she lives life while stuck inside ‘8-year-old’s body

Steve Hopkins

Shauna suffered from a rare form of cancer when she was six months old

A 22-year-old woman who lives life stuck in “the body of an eight-year-old” has revealed how she gets people to treat her as an adult.

Shauna Rae, from Long Island, stands at 3ft 10in tall and weighs about 50 pounds due to a form of medical dwarfism.

At six months old, Shauna was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and underwent chemotherapy.

While the radiation successfully rid her body of cancer, it caused her pituitary gland to not function properly. The gland affects the “brain, skin, energy, mood, reproductive organs, vision, growth, and more,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

While Shauna’s dwarfism was noticed at kindergarten, with many of the other children standing at least a foot taller than her, it  wasn’t until she was 16 that doctors told her that she was officially done developing.

Shauna’s bones had already fused together and with a pituitary gland close to dormant, any further growth looked extremely unlikely.

Despite being given growth hormones, Shauna has remained small in stature and leads a very different life to most women her age.

In TLC Australia documentary I Am Shaun Rae, Shauna details how she didn’t realise she “wasn’t going to be normal” until she was 16.

“In that moment, the world shattered, ” she said.

“I want to live my life like my friends and sisters do, but I need my mother, father and the rest of the world to realise that I’m an adult.”

Shauna struggles with other people’s child-like perceptions of her, and we see these difficulties play out in the documentary, like when she goes to a bar.

After attracting some embarrassing stares and being told that children are not allowed at the bar, Shauna presents her ID to reveal her actual age.

Shauna also struggles with the way in which she is viewed compared to her her 24-year-old sister Tara.

“It is difficult seeing my other friends and family being more independent, but I don’t envy or have any jealousy towards Tara and what choices she has made in her life, whether that’s going to college or moving out.

“But I think it’s entirely unfair that my parents treat us differently as we’re only two years apart.”

Shauna reveals in the series how she took up  vaping as a way to “look older”, saying: “I’ve always been attracted to that edgy lifestyle with the tattoos, the piercings, vaping or doing anything adult-esque.

“It wasn’t to show anyone else that I’m an adult, but to prove to myself that I’m an adult.”

Shauna has also tried online dating and is looking for ways to meet new people, but stressed she doesn’t need a boyfriend to become more independent. She has previously spoken about enjoying sex as it makes her feel “normal” and empowers her.

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