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How a Reddit comment saved a man's life

March 7, 2012 at 4:27 PM ET

BearGSilber/YouTube /

A mysterious illness turned a man who was once an active athlete into someone who was barely able to climb a flight of stairs. Doctors poring over countless medical exams couldn't determine what was happening to his body and he began slowly giving up hope. But then a comment on Reddit changed everything — and saved his life.

The man — who goes by the name Bear Silber — recently posted a video on Kickstarter in order to raise funds to cover living expenses and fees associated with writing a non-fiction book about his experience. He credits Reddit for saving his life and he wants to share his story.

He says the moment that turned everything around occured while he happened to be browsing Reddit and noticed a photo someone posted. It showed a man with some sort of deformity and a caption asked "How is this shape possible?"

A chill ran through Silber. "[Someone] posted [the photo] as a joke, but I knew without a doubt that I would look like this man if I did not get help."

He frantically scrolled through the comments on the image and he noticed many suggested the pictured man may have Cushing's Disease. A couple of online searches later, he'd realized all of his mysterious symptoms matched those of the illness:

I printed out what I had found and took it to my doctor. He laughed at me and said how much he hated the Internet. He hated how much patients self-diagnosed their conditions. He said there was no way I had Cushing's Syndrome.

Frustrated, Silber sought out a new doctor who sent him to a specialist. That specialist almost immediately confirmed Silber's own diagnosis. Several months later he underwent surgery to remove his adrenal gland and a tumor.

And now? Now Silber is gradually recovering and thanking Reddit for sending him on a path to better health.

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