Can TikTok save lives? It seems that the trendy social network has at least saved that of Helen Bender. The 26-year-old says a popular beauty tutorial “saved her life.”
By using a massage tool, the gua sha, in order to sculpt and better define the shape of her jaw, the young woman discovered a bump on the skin, at the level of the neck. A growth that later turned out to be cancerous…
Massaging her face
“Using gua shua saved my life,” she told the Mirror newspaper. “If I hadn’t, I probably would have skipped my appointment and wouldn’t have been able to get him checked out,” she said, insisting, “I could have died.” Gua sha has recently become popular on TikTok, allowing lymphatic massages to be performed on the face. Helen admits having been tempted to make her “face thinner”, she did not expect to discover a bump on her neck.
Pleasant weight loss
Frequently falling ill, the young woman is not worried at first, especially since her lump is not painful. “I thought it was a swollen lymph node,” she said. Her weight loss, far from alerting her, delights her. “I loved that. I thought “I’m so skinny!” “without realizing that it was cancer” she slipped. However, as the days go by, the young woman notices that the ball continues to grow. Worried, she makes an appointment with an oncologist.
A traumatic experience
In remission for five years after a previous diagnosis of melanoma, Helen does not expect to relive the same devastating experience. “When I was 18, I had a mole on my back,” she recalled. “They did a biopsy and it appeared to be melanoma which was crazy because I had never been in UV cabins” she continued. Unfortunately, Helen learns that she has stage 4 skin cancer.
A very slim hope
After this announcement in April 2022, Helen performs a follow-up analysis in May. Doctors discover that the tumors are present throughout his body, including on his pancreas, both of his lungs and in his intestines. “There were about 20 bumps that had spread all over my body in several places. It is actually indicated that I may be at stage 5,” she confided. Helen brings her fiancé to the doctor’s office. When the diagnosis is announced, both cry. “I couldn’t tell my dad, it’s so hard to tell family members this. So the doctor told my dad and my dad told my mom and my sister,” she explained.
fight for his life
Helen, supported by those close to her, asks her doctor how much time she has left. “He told me that someone had come to see him at a similar stage and that he was dead in six weeks,” she noted. In June, Helen begins a two-year course of immunotherapy to fight the cancer cells. Swelling the tumors heavily, Helen is stopped in the street by strangers telling her they will pray for her.
Only one option available
“We knew immunotherapy was the only option,” she commented. “There’s a 50% chance it will work and a 50% chance it won’t. It’s basically a death sentence,” she explained. The drug makes the tumors grow so big that the young woman suffers for everything. Impossible to eat, impossible to go to the toilet as there are so many of them in her intestines… Helen is going through hell. Eight months of treatment later, the swelling has reduced. Less painful, they leave the young woman with hope.
A possible remission
“I still have a year and a half of treatment and they predict that I will go into remission in less than two years,” she said. ” It works very well. It doesn’t have the same effects as chemotherapy, so I have a pretty good quality of life,” she added. Wanting her experience to be useful, Helen concluded, “The one thing I always want to tell people now is to go on your dates! “.