Bear Silber knew he was suffering from a debilitating disease that sapped him of his once-youthful energy. He just didn’t know what it was. And apparently, neither did the professionals. He spent years going from doctor to doctor—and scouring the Internet for answers.
“I’ve had at least three compression fractures, lost about three inches in height and my posture is extremely affected--slouched over, puffy face,” Silber told the Daily Dot.
Then, one Saturday night last September Silber, a social media marketer in California, happened to be logged onto Reddit for some much-needed entertainment.
What he found turned out to be a lifesaver: He discovered a thread featuring a photo of a man with a distended neck. At the very top of the thread was the answer to the mans neck condition. It also turned out to be the answer to Silber’s prayers.
The thread revealed the man was suffering from Cushing’s syndrome, a hormone disorder caused by a tumor producing cortisol or adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The illness can cause weight gain in the trunk and face.
Siber “ knew right away,” that that’s what he had: Cushings. “I kid you not.”
His doctor, however, wasn’t so convinced, refusing to believe Silber. It was just the Internet, after all.
“He literally laughed the moment I said, ‘ look I found this online,’” Silber added. “He laughed. because I couldn’t possibly have Cushing’s.”
Silber did not let that doctor deter him. After that appointment he met with an endocrinologist who confirmed what he learned on Reddit. And on Oct. 6, after months of waiting to get insurance, he went into surgery to remove the tumor.
“Right now my life is going amazing,” said Silber, who sees a physical therapist once a week. “Being able to get better, build muscle, start healing, I have such a positive outlook on things as opposed to continually getting worse and worse and worse.”
Silber shared his story in a YouTube video featuring photos of his condition and plenty of Rage comics. He has also started a Kickstarter project to help pay for his medical bills while he writes a book about his journey.
“There’s a lot more into it,” Silber said. “For two years when I was gone, I didn’t want to be seen. I was pretty grotesque, in my opinion. I wanna write about that experience. I really, truly, just want to thank the people who’ve come forward and inspired me.”
Kevin Morris contributed to this story.