Shauna Rae is 22 years old, but her bout with brain cancer as a child left her stuck in an 8-year-old’s body. Now, in her new TLC show set to premiere next year, she reveals shocking details about what it’s like to live this way.
I am Shauna Rae will follow her as she “navigates the extraordinary challenge of trying to live a normal adult life despite her appearance,” from dating and love to everyday struggles, the cable network said. The series premieres on Jan. 11 at 10 p.m. EST.
Shauna Rae Stuck in Child’s Body
According to the trailer, Shauna was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer at only 6 months old. She endured chemotherapy, which eventually sent the disease into remission, but resulted in an unforeseen side effect that impacts her every day.
The treatment sent her pituitary gland — the brain structure responsible for growth — into a state of “almost” dormancy, stunting her physical development in its tracks.
“The doctor told me I was done growing, my bones were fused,” she told TLC.
Today, at 22 years old, Shauna stands at 3-foot-10, the average height of an 8-year-old girl.
“If you were to look at me, you would think I’m just a normal little girl, doing normal little girl things with my fun, crazy family,” she said in the documentary trailer. “But the truth is I’m not a little girl. I’m a woman, a 22-year-old woman stuck in the body of an 8 year old.”
In the promotional clip, Shauna is seen struggling to find acceptance in her everyday life — at a bar, getting a tattoo and at the gym, she encounters people who don’t believe she’s really an adult.
“We can’t have children at the bar,” a server tells her bluntly in the trailer. “There is an age requirement,” says a gym staffer dismissively.
“I feel, I guess almost guilty, that she will have to go through this for the rest of her life,” her mother Patty Schrankel says in the video. “So all I can do is protect her.”
Dating is a Challenge, Says TLC Star
While she doesn’t look her age, Shauna says she desperately wants to be seen for the adult woman she is.
“Even though I physically can’t grow up, I desperately want to be treated like a grownup,” she says.
Finding love is especially difficult, Shauna says, given her condition makes her look and sound like a second grader.
“My relationship status is single,” she says in the clip, while working with her friends to write a bio for her profile on a dating site. “I’m short, leave me alone,” she eventually settles on.
“I attract creeps, a—holes, and idiots,” Shauna says in the trailer. “It is scary to put myself out there, but you have to risk it to get happiness.”
Shauna also says her parents can be a little overprotective, but that she’s “working on” establishing her “independence.” In one clip, she tells her friends that her parents plan to build an addition on their new property where she will live.
“No!” a friend says. “You have to tell them no!”
“I’ve tried to put my foot down with my parents about doing more independent things,” she says, but her parents remain fearful about her transition into the big world.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to let her go,” he mother admits to the camera. “But she needs to be let go.”