LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When Delorian Cole was 9, her breasts started growing, and wouldn’t stop.
Delorian, reports CBS2’s Serene Branson, is the typical sixth-grade girl. It’s a story that is Only On 2.
Delorian’s 11 now. She loves to watch TV and listen to music.
“Pink is probably my favorite color,” she says.
But Delorian is battling a rare, painful and public disease.
“People look at me, and they’re like ‘How old are you are you? 16?’ I’ll go like this [she crosses her arms in front of her chest] because I don’t want people to see me,” Delorian says.
It was two years ago that Delorian first told her mother, Thalia Hicks, that her chest hurt.
“It’s like they grew overnight,” says Hicks. “If I was to measure, we’re talking her bra went from a size 32 to 38. They’re red, they’re hard, and she’s telling me ‘I’m sore. I’m hurting Mommy, look.’ ”
Doctors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles diagnosed Delorian with virginal mammary hypertrophy. It’s a rare endocrine and hormonal disease that has had only 103 reported cases in the United States.
The disease causes the breasts to discharge and grow at a rapid rate.
Hicks showed Branson several of Delorian’s bras. She grew out of them rapidly, almost weekly.
“This was the last she was; you can see how big she is, a 50F,” says Hicks.
Cole was a size 50F by the time she was 10. That is bigger than a triple D size. She was only able to find bras that fit at plus-size specialty stores or online.
Branson said as Delorian’s breasts continued to enlarge, she faced delays from the insurance company that didn’t approve specialists or prescribed treatments.
Hicks and her daughter have now filed a lawsuit against Anthem Blue Cross and Preferred IPA of Southern California.
They said doctors recommended monthly shots of Lupron to stop the growth. The complaint said IPA denied the claims based on Blue Cross’ criteria. Lupron is often prescribed to treat fibroid tumors in women, prostate cancer in men and premature puberty in children.
While one dose was authorized, Hicks said, they received a letter soon after denying the claim and suggesting the Lupron shots were “not medically necessary.”
The claim was denied because Delorian was older than 1o, and it’s recommended the drug be used on girls before the age 8, before puberty.
“My child is not going through puberty. My child is going through a breast disease that needs some medical attention,” Hicks said.
Because of the excessive growth, doctors performed surgery on Delorian earlier this year. Insurance covered the procedure. Doctors removed 1,000 grams of tissue from each breast, bringing her down to a 42C.
The lawsuit also alleges that because Delorian needed a blood transfusion due to the large amount of material removed, she nearly died.
Her mother says Delorian is back to a double D cup.
“The surgical doctor said she need to continue on the Lupron so that when she’s finished her therapy, she won’t have to repeat it. Guess what? Her breasts are growing back,” says Hicks.
Delorian’s condition makes her unable to go to school.
“She has to wake up and look at scars and feeling like she’s not normal,” says Hicks. “Then to sit there and come to me and say, ‘Mommy, I got another knot.’ It’s too much for a kid.”
Mother and daughter have decided to take on Blue Cross with the help of an attorney.
“Every patient is entitled to timely and adequate health care, and that’s all she’s asking for,” says lawyer Travis Corby.
Delorian’s lawyer said Blue Cross never offered an alternative-treatment plan and essentially denied the claim based on general guidelines and Delorian being beyond the recommended age, not for her condition.
“I don’t think an insurance company who’s never seen her or spoken to her her doctor is going to know the right treatment plans,” Corby says. “Leave that in the hands of her doctor.”
Delorian is still being denied the Lupron shots, so her mom fears an endless cycle of surgeries.
Blue Cross said Delorian was part of a Medi-Cal plan, not a group or private plan, meaning they’re part of a government-subsidized plan.
It’s a distinction Delorian and her mother don’t believe should make a difference in her care. They’re asking for the coverage they say will help her cope.
“They need to do what’s right,” Hicks says, “and pay for my daughter’s treatments. That’s all I’m asking. They are causing a lot of damage, a lot of suffering, and my child has had enough and so have I.”