I loved how much weight I lost – I was so skinny but then a viral beauty hack revealed horrifying secret

A YOUNG estate agent discovered she had a life-threating disease after using a viral beauty hack.

Helen Bender, 26, was using the latest craze gua shua massage tool on her face to sculpt a “skinnier” jawline in April 2022, when she first felt the bump under her skin.


Helen Bender (pictured) was 26 when she discovered she had stage 4 cancerCredit: Kennedy News
A gua shua(pictured) first revealed Helen's neck lump


A gua shua(pictured) first revealed Helen’s neck lumpCredit: Kennedy News
Helen's neck lump continued to grow until she went to visit a doctor


Helen’s neck lump continued to grow until she went to visit a doctorCredit: Kennedy News

At the same time, the beauty lover was rapidly losing weight which she “loved”.

But when the lump continued to grow she went to visit a doctor who quickly diagnosed her with stage 4 cancer.

“I remember having a blank stare on my face, it was such a blur,” Helen from Alabama, US, said.

“I had my fiancé come and meet me at the doctors office, we were both crying,” she added.

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Helen, had been in remission for five years from a previous melanoma diagnosis, after noticing a mole on her back.

She was having annual cancer check-ups, but had missed her 2022 appointment.

Melanoma, is diagnosed 97,610 times a year in the US, according to the American Cancer Society.

And 16,00 times in the UK, Cancer Research says.

It is the most serious type of skin cancer and has a tendency to spread around the body.

Further scans revealed Helen’s cancer had spread and there were around 20 tumours spread across her body – including in her lungs and digestive system.

“I asked my doctor how long he thought I would have, and he said someone had come to him at a similar stage and they died in six weeks,” Helen recalls.

“I couldn’t tell my dad, it’s so hard to tell that kind of news to family members.

“So the doctor told my dad, and my dad told my mum and sister.

“They just hugged me and told me we were going to get through this.” she said.

Helen started a course of immunotherapy at the Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile, Alabama, in early June.

The medicine initially caused the tumours to balloon so much that strangers in the street stopped her and said they would pray for her.

Helen said: “It was pretty painful on my jaw, the lump was pressing on a nerve and it got difficult to swallow.

“I had a really big tumour in my left thigh, about the size of my fist, it grew so huge that my muscles would ache so badly.

“I couldn’t go to the rest room for so long as some were in my intestines [and] it was causing internal problems,” the estate agent added.

Now the swelling has gone down, Helen’s tumours are no longer painful and she says she feels positive for her future as the treatment appears to be working.

“I have another year-and-a-half of medicine, and they’re predicting I’ll go into remission in under two years,” Helen said.

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“The one thing now that I always want to tell people is to go to your appointments,” she added.

Helen’s sister, Virginia Bender has launched a GoFundMe page so people can help support the 26-year old through her cancer treatment.

What are the symptoms of melanoma

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

Most experts recommend using the simple “ABCDE” rule to look for symptoms of melanoma skin cancer, which can appear anywhere on the body.

  • Asymmetrical – melanomas usually have two very different halves and are an irregular shape
  • Border – melanomas usually have a notched or ragged border
  • Colours – melanomas will usually be a mix of two or more colours
  • Diameter – most melanomas are usually larger than 6mm in diameter
  • Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma

In women, the most common specific location for melanoma skin cancers in the UK is the legs.

Men are more likely to see melanomas in their trunk – the back or torso.

Source: Cancer Research UK

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