11-year-old 'gentle giant' battles rare tumor causing gigantism

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KKTV) - Stone Sherwood is your typical 11-year-old kid.

"I like to do kickball, football, hang out, play video games," he told 11 News reporter Kyla Galer.

Except for one thing.

"I'm a giant."

Stone, who lives in Castle Rock, is only a fifth-grader and already hovers just below 6 feet. His parents say he went from 5-foot-8 to over 5-foot-10 in just one month.

Stone does come from a tall family, with a few cousins nearly 7 feet tall. But his parents say this is no ordinary growth spurt.

"We were just concerned that he was growing so much so fast," Krysta Sherwood said.

And their concerns were spot on: one doctor's visit later, Krysta and husband Eric heard the words no parent wants to hear.

"Stone has a very small tumor."

As Dr. Todd Hankinson explained to Galer, the tumor is in the area of the pituitary gland. The gland helps to control hormones and keeps the body healthy. Because of the tumor's location, Stone's growth hormones are going haywire.

"It's scary. I don't know how much he's going to grow," Eric Sherwood said.

The tumor is benign, but it has left this elementary school student with a condition most usually associate with movies: gigantism.

So when Stone refers to himself as a giant, he's not wrong.

The 11-year-old is mostly in good spirits over what he's going through.

"People at school call me the gentle giant," he told Galer.

In class, Stone towers over his friends, but he says he doesn't mind.

"They always look up to me, I always have to look down to them, and it's pretty cool, actually."

His parents try to stay upbeat too.

"After he sleeps, you know, he wakes up and I'm like, 'You look bigger today than you did the day before!'" Krysta Sherwood said.

But the tumor has also caused some scary symptoms in addition to the gigantism.

"I've fainted a couple of times. ... I run inside, I grab a drink of water, and then the next thing I know, I'm on the ground. There's the cup right there, there's water everywhere. My sister heard a thump," Stone said.

He also has difficulty taking part in some of the things kids his age like to do, like running and jumping.

"I'm not the fastest runner because of being so tall," Stone said.

What Stone is enduring is extremely uncommon, Hankinson said.

"Pituary adenomas in children are pretty rare," he told Galer.

"It's so rare, so that makes it scarier," his parents said.

And as his May 18 surgery approaches, his parents are both relieved and understandably fearful.

"It's stressful just knowing he'll have to go through that," his parents said.

Though the condition is rare, Hankinson said the surgery is not.

"His tumor is right next to one of the major arteries that brings blood to the brain, so that always makes us careful, but this is something that we do this type of surgery fairly frequently," he told Galer.

The family is hopeful Stone's growth spurt will slow to a normal pace after the surgery, but the long-term effects of gigantism are still a question mark.

"We have a sense of what things to look out for but we don't know exactly what path he's going to go down," Hankinson said.

The Sherwoods say they just want to get through his surgery -- and maybe a full night's sleep.

"It's a stressful time right now," Eric Sherwood said.

Stone hopes he'll be able to play competitive sports soon.

"I'm a little scared of playing sports, but I also want to."

If you'd like to help with Stone's medical expenses, A GoFundMe can be found here.