Helaina was fit and healthy (Picture: Jam Press)
A woman was left stunned after finding that innocent-looking ‘dots’ on her skin were actually a sign of blood cancer.
Helaina Hillyard, 20, from Iowa, US, first noticed the freckle-like spots after routine basketball practice one evening in November 2021.
After just a few hours, the spots grew bigger and were showing up across her body.
The athletic student initially assumed they were bruises from sport, but decided to go to the hospital to get checked as a precaution.
To her surprise, she was sent to the emergency room, where blood work showed her blood levels were extremely low.
The doctor explained to her that the dots on her skin were petechiae. These are spots that appear as a result of internal bleeding.
Helaina was immediately transferred to another hospital. There she met with an oncologist and was told the devastating news that she had B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
This is a type blood cancer.
The only signs of her illness were the strange dots and Helaina says that outside of them she was feeling fit and well.
‘I was in disbelief and shock,’ Helaina recalls.
‘I could have nearly died if I waited a few more hours to go to the doctor. The doctor in the ER said I was extremely lucky I hadn’t played basketball [since that day] because I could have easily suffered a brain bleed or internal bleeding.
‘I never in a million years could think something like this could happen to anyone in my life let alone myself.’
The dots were the only sign she was sick (Picture: Jam Press/Helaina Hillyard)
Helaina immediately started treatment with blood transfusions and chemotherapy. She currently receives these every 10 days.
While terrified at the news, Helaina had faith that she would get through it and recover.
Her studies are now on hold and she says she is currently focusing on taking things one day at a time.
She recently shared her story on TikTok, where the clip received more than 5.9 million views and 500,000 likes.
The dots covered her arms and leg (Picture: Jam Press Vid/Helaina Hillyard)
One person commented: ‘Panic mode – activated.’
‘This isn’t good for my hypochondria,’ added another.
While a third said: ‘My daughters leukemia started like that too. She was 12. She’s 25 now and cancer free. Hang in there!’
Helaina says she wanted to share her story in the hopes of raising awareness.
‘I wanted to show it’s possible to try to keep a positive spin on things no matter how bleak things may seem,’ she adds.
‘I received lots of different reactions. I unintentionally scared some people -and worried some that their spots might be cancer and they reached out to me with questions.
‘But I also received so many nice supportive messages and I couldn’t be more grateful.’
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