Woman, 20, horrified to discover tiny dots on skin were a sign of cancer

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Helaina Hillyard, 20, first noticed the freckle-like spots appearing on her body in 2021 after getting changed following a basketball match – and thought they were bruises

Helaina in hospital on 12 November 2021 after noticing the dots
Helaina in hospital on 12 November 2021 after noticing the dots

A woman was left stunned after discovering the innocent-looking “dots” on her skin turned out a sign of blood cancer.

Helaina Hillyard, 20, from Iowa, US, first noticed the freckle-like spots on her body in November 2021 while changing.

Within a couple of hours, the spots increased in size and scattered across her body, covering her arms and legs.

The athletic student initially assumed they were bruises from the sport but decided to go to the hospital to get checked.

To her surprise, she was sent to the emergency room, where tests showed her blood levels were extremely low.

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The spots grew bigger and were showing up across her body.
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Image:

Jam Press/Helaina Hillyard)







Dots on her skin are from recent treatment from low platelets called petechiae.
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Image:

Jam Press Vine/Helaina Hillyard)

The doctor explained the dots on her skin were petechiae – spots that appear as a result of internal bleeding.

She was then transferred to another hospital where she saw an oncologist and was delivered the devastating news that she had B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – blood cancer.

Incredibly, the only signs of her illness were the strange dots – with the student otherwise feeling fit and well.







Helaina with her dad Bill, in hospital, when she was first diagnosed in November 2021
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Image:

Jam Press/Helaina Hillyard)

“I was in disbelief and shock,” Helaina, who is also a basketball player, said.

“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.”







She wants to raise awareness
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Image:

Jam Press/Helaina Hillyard)







Helaina in hospital on 12 November 2021 after noticing the dots
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Image:

Jam Press/Helaina Hillyard)

Helaina immediately started treatment with blood transfusions and chemotherapy – which she currently receives every 10 days.

While she was terrified to receive the shocking news, Helaina had faith that she would get through it and recover.

She has put her studies on hold and says she is currently focusing on taking things one day at a time.

Despite the scare, Helaina wanted to share her story in the hopes of raising awareness.

She said: “I wanted to show it’s possible to try to keep a positive spin on things no matter how bleak things may seem.

“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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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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