MEARS, Mich. — Dale Hawkey has lived in his basement for three years now, staying out of sight because he's ashamed.
Hawkey, 49, claims he has the world's largest chest due to a medical condition. He and his caregiver, Nancy DeRose, say his chest is made up of thick corded muscle, and it's so painful, he wears a size 44L bra.
Hawkey is testing his strength of character, sharing his feelings, pushing pride aside in talking to FOX 17 about the accident that changed his life.
In 1999, Hawkey was run over by a truck. "It backed up over me," he said. Doctors placed a piece of plastic into his spine, and that piece of plastic, DeRose claims, is shifting.
"The chest has grown every time that plastic piece shifts he grows," DeRose said.
Hawkey says doctors are baffled, but he wants answers, not only for his health but his pride.
He has lived in his basement for three years now, staying out of sight because he's ashamed.
"I've lost three years of my life," Hawkey said.
DeRose says Hawkey has been tested for every hormone known to man.
According to Hawkey's medical records, he has a history of mildly overactive thyroid, low testosterone and elevated pituitary hormones. His mammograms are all negative, so there are no tumors.
Endocrinologists believe he has increasing fatty breast tissue, or gynecomastia. But Hawkey and DeRose disagree, claiming Hawkey's chest is all muscle. They say other muscles on Hawkey are growing too, including his neck, arms and upper back.
"Everything is solid," Hawkey said.
"The doctors can’t figure out what caused it and how to slow it down," DeRose said.
Hawkey says his condition is heartbreaking. He has lost friends and some family. And he constantly feels self-conscious.
"We've scoured the internet, seeing if there’s any other known cases," DeRose said. "I've gone through I don’t know how many medical journals, trying to see if anybody was out there or any study."
Hawkey is currently waiting for an appointment at the University of Michigan. He says he's not looking for a cure but just something to slow this down this process down, whatever this process may be.
Hawkey says he is afraid if the process continues, it will kill him.
If you would like to help with Hawkey's medical expenses, click here.