Buckhead teenager diagnosed with rare disease
By Ann Cantrell
Her favorite class is Language Arts. When she grows up, she wants to be doctor or nurse because she enjoys taking care of people.
Brittany Carter, a 13-year-old from Buckhead, will certainly face more difficulties in achieving her goals than others her age.
Carter has a rare ailment called McCune-Albright Disease. When she was six years old, she had a seizure and, soon after, started menstruating. Her mother, Pammy Coates, took her to a doctor in Augusta who informed them of her condition.
While symptoms may vary for the disease, it is usually defined by early puberty, bone disease and abnormal skin pigmentation, according to the Magic Foundation Web site, one of the few places for information and support for people with McCune-Albright Disease.
Carter experiences severe pain and migraines due to the condition and sometimes can't get out of bed, much less attend school, with the severe pain. Her mother said the most frustrating part of the situation was watching her daughter in so much pain.
“A 13-year-old should not have to go through this,” said Coates.
After talking with their doctor, Coates decided to tell her daughter’s story in order to spread information on the condition and help other parents who may not be aware that their child has McCune-Albright Disease.
Some of the symptoms of McCune-Albright Disease include early maturation, which could manifest in early onset menstruation, the development of breasts and/or increased growth rate. Another symptom is the replacement of normal bone with “irregular masses of fibroblast cells,” said the Magic Foundation Web site. These abnormal growths may cause severe pain.
Despite her daughter’s condition, Coates said that their situation has given her a new outlook on life and taught her to not take anything for granted. Coates is also thankful for the help and support she receives from her mother, Ruthie Coates, and her sister, Jackie Scott, who take care of Brittany when she has to be at work.
All three of the women expressed a frustration with the lack of financial support from the government. According to Coates, one of Brittany's doctor’s visits can be more expensive than a mortgage on a house, yet they receive no financial help.
Scott, who also has Lupus, blamed the problem on the lack of recognition of the disease as life-threatening. While McCune-Albright is not life-threatening now for Brittany, her mother said it could turn into breast or bone cancer and lamented the lack of help from the government.
“Do you have to be dead to get help?” asked an outraged Coates, who is also an insurance agent.
She said that with her job, she meets a lot of people who are waiting on funds from the government or for a disability hearing. For now, Coates is paying for her daughter’s medicine and hoping for a treatment for the disease as well as funding from the government.