Celebrating Spartans: Solving a medical mystery


EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi can’t help but feel happy when he sees Sydney Kandell for a check-up.

That’s because he and another Spartan were the ones who finally figured out she had a rare disease, after years of pain, embarrassment and being told it was “all in her head.”

Actually, it was all in her head.

For four years Sydney walked around with a tumor on her pituitary gland starting her freshman year at Leslie High School.

“I starting noticing subtle changes in my body,” she remembers “Like my weight.”

And then it wasn’t so subtle.

Sydney gained 20-pounds in 9th grade, then more the next and the next.

“I tried working out more, I tried going on diets,” she says. “Nothing worked, it didn’t matter what I did.”

Her parents took her to all kinds of doctors who told her “…write a food journal. Exercise more and eat less. They all told me the same thing, over and over.”

But nothing helped.

And by the time she graduated Sydney had gained 160 pounds.

It made her feel like a failure.

A year after graduation Sydney ended up in Sparrow Hospital, in rough shape.

A doctor there, who’d studied with Dr. Aldasouqi at MSU, “had a hunch” Sydney might have Cushing’s Disease.

Dr. Aldasouqi was called to the hospital to take a look, did some tests and confirmed it.

Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi said “these are extremely rare diseases. Sydney was my fourth case.”

A large tumor had formed on Sydney’s pituitary gland, located right in the middle of the brain.

The symptoms look like other health issues:

  • weight gain
  • a round face
  • stretch marks
  • acne
  • even facial hair.

Sydney had experienced every single one of those.

She said high school was hard. “I got really mean,” she explains. “I didn’t want to be bullied, so I had to be mean to people. Anyone who gave me crap I had to be mean to, to leave me alone.”

Doctor Aldasouqi and a neuro-surgeon recommended the tumor be removed immediately.

They told Sydney, the safest way to do that was “we’re going to have to take your nose off,” she remembers. “That was probably the scariest part, because I thought I’d have scars on my face my whole life. Obviously you can’t even tell.”

Sydney describes how doctors attacked the tumor. “They sliced under my nose, right here, and here and they lifted up.”

The surgery was successful; the turmor was removed.

And a life was saved.

But it all started with these Spartans and their medical expertise.

“All my doctors seem like heroes to me,” she says. “Because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today.”

Doctor Aldasouqi remembers” “not an easy surgery. It worked very well.”

For Sydney the impact was seen “immediately. Within the first week I lost 20 pounds.”

Since then, Sydney has been steadily losing the weight and getting her life back together.

She’s currently taking classes at Lansing Community College with big plans to go to med school at MSU.

“I want to study endocrinology. I want to work in pediatrics with children so no one has to go thru what I went through, especially kids because that’s tough.”


Sydney’s medical team:

Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi, Chief, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism M.S.U.

Dr. Mohamed H. Elnabtiti, Lansing Neurosurgery

Dr. Tiffany Burns, Sparrow Hospital

Dr. Howard, Pathologist

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Michigan Headlines

More Michigan