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FYI - Fakers on the internet - faking cancer

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1528
Joined: Mar 2010

Yes, even on this site. A group of us here were sucked in by someone in the Chat Room several years ago - ostensibly an 18 year old, single mom with Leukemia. We eventually found significant holes in her story, and outed her. Everything is as described in the article I reference below. It's long, but worth the read. My son posted this article, and I thought it was interesting:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/the-lying-disease/Content?oid=15337239

This is just a reminder not to trust someone just because they say they have cancer. While most of us here are legitimate, there are people who join for their own purposes, the attention they get and/or the power that they feel jerking us around.

I don't want to be negative, but having been burned, and now having seen this article a few years later, where virtually every detail matched (including the cousin who posted for her while she was dying in the hospital, or kicked out of her family's home or....)

It really hurts to give of yourself in something so sensitive, to find that the person is faking their cancer just for attention or for the joke of it. Lots of us were very worried, tried to contact her. She threatened suicide - lots of group energy was expended on her. We need our energy to take care of ourselves, and to share with friends in need, not with fakers.

Just please be aware, and be careful if/when you exchange personal information.

Alice

Brenda Bricco's picture
Brenda Bricco
Posts: 549
Joined: Aug 2011

I read most of the article but just got sick of it and came back to your post. I just don't understand how someone can fake something like cancer with out being over whelmed with guilt.
When I think back to the beginning of my husbnad's dx and everything he has been through, I must admit it sounds like some sort of horror story; but it's no story, it's the life that we will continue to live for the rest of his life(GOD willing, many, many years).

It just blows me away that someone would want to pretend that they have cancer!

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1528
Joined: Mar 2010

Brenda,
It amazed me that virtually everything in the article "happened" to the girl who was faking in our chat room, including personal and family crises, and the additional person writing supporting posts. She'd get through these amazing medical crises, only to have another, and just dragged us on and on.

She posted in Expressions, and finally posted a photo of "her and her baby" which someone recognized as a teen mom and baby from a TV sitcom - the photo was a fake. Other things started showing up, and CSN members got her and her cousin banned.

Playing for empathy - we all know cancer too intimately, to her situation - of being young and having a child - what she/they did was unforgivable.

Munchausen's syndrome is a known medical/mental disorder. Another even more horrible form of it is "Munchausen by Proxy" where the person creates illness in someone else, usually a child. Parents have been found contaminating their children's IV lines so that the child gets sicker. They poison the kids to get them to need medical care. And then look for sympathy, because look at the difficulties they are going through as parents. It's very disturbing.

Brenda Bricco's picture
Brenda Bricco
Posts: 549
Joined: Aug 2011

I am familiar with Munchausen's syndrome... I saw some new's stories like 20/20 or 60 minutes where this woman had a very ill child in the hospital, she was putting cleaning chemicals in the childs food and was actually suffocating the child with a pillow when she thought no one could see her.
I can't even tell you how this makes me feel... I am a soft hearted mom that can't stand the thought of anyone or anything being hurt.
It's good to know that there are people are watching for that sort of stuff here but how sad that we even have too.
Brenda

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2184
Joined: Oct 2011

is that a person may have an alleged friend or relative join a site to offer corroboration of their story, but this proves nothing. Fakers can easily create so-called "sock puppet" accounts that give the illusion of reality. In one case I read about, the teenage girl doing the faking not only pretended to be an adult male, she created over 70 false Facebook accounts to give her character family and friends. And I have seen more than one account here on CSN that I believe were started by pretenders (including one that was here for a while using the same user name as a young woman who spent some time in jail for defrauding people of money while pretending to have cancer). So it's important to be very wary, especially with people who seem to have non-stop (not necessarily cancer-related) drama. Ann Alexandria
PS I'm real...I think.
PPS I believe that this is being referred to as "Munchausen by Internet"...so common it now has its own name.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7874
Joined: Aug 2005

When I was on chat, I remember being scolded for 'screening' someone a bit too strongly...and then, these sorts of people showed up in full glory and lies...sigh...

I would GLADLY give them all of MY cancer experience....I never asked for it, never wished for it, and would just as well not have any memory of it (and my family feels the same...smile).

Wow! Alexandria, I share your amazement at the common use of this farce...sigh...

Hugs, Kathi

P.S. I think I'm real, so I think you are real...hummmm...can anyone really say...*grin*....I know I can speak the lingo (again, wish I couldn't!).

P.P.S. Went for my semi-annual blood draw today. Normally it's a bit of a hassle...I have no fully working veins in my elbows anymore (thank you, cancer, for blowing them all!). This time, with the requested 'butterfly' pediatric needle, the tech hit the first time!!!! DANCING!!! (almost don't care what the results are...just happy the draw worked...how wacky is THAT??????)

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2184
Joined: Oct 2011

just this morning, I was leaving a message of support for a young woman on a site I frequent (Blog for a Cure) who allegedly has leukemia. She claimed that she had been in a medical coma for 2 weeks, and was on the verge of death, but was also telling people "happy holidays" (all caps) and being strangely cheerful. Two of the warning signs I've read about...extreme drama, even for the world of cancer, and weird, inappropriate mixing of emotions. I did a quick search, found that she had a blog about her cancer...and she had been posting stuff during the time period in which she said she was in a coma. So I asked her if the blog was hers, and she promptly locked it down without responding, I told her I was going to ask the admin to take a look at her account, and just like that, she was gone from Blog for a Cure. She was using pictures of a woman with cancer, as well as pictures of the woman's husband and child, on the both sites. I found her on Facebook under her real name, she's a young woman, but other than that, all lies. This is quite depressing. I barely have the energy to support myself, let alone sociopaths faking illness. Really makes it hard to have any trust at all. Ann Alexandria

here4lfe
Posts: 294
Joined: Jan 2010

There is a limited supply of time (how well cancer reveals this to be true), financial and emotional resources and they don't need to be diverted by hoaxes and scams.

Best

here4lfe
Posts: 294
Joined: Jan 2010

Good job on ferreting her out! You don't mess around.

Best

Brenda Bricco's picture
Brenda Bricco
Posts: 549
Joined: Aug 2011

Just crazy... I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2001 (early stage), suffered a coma from Sepsis that led to organ failire and all sorts of hell 2001-2002 but my story unfortuantley is real.
I am now fighting the fight with my husband to beat his cancer... I just don't understand why anyone would even want to pretend to be in this mess. I say, stay as far away from this stuff as you can, your turn comes soon enough. I am not saying that everyone gets cancer but in one way or another chances are that cancer will take something from you.

I get it... they are sick in a mental way, I just think I could find something better to lie about than this, cancer sucks.

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4266
Joined: Jun 2009

Wow, that's a shame...

I've got enough bad kharma in my life just being me.

It hurts me to see my favorite librarian begin to "not trust"...though your story illustrates a perfect example of how trust can be eroded and if not careful - destroyed completely.

I suppose there is still a naive part of me that does not want to stare for too long into the void of the darker side of our natures...one of the reasons I always try and shine a light on the virtuous parts of us that I believe in and want to celebrate.

Since the season to "Believe" is rapidly approaching...

I would ask you to still "Believe in Me."

:)

As I said, I also have paid a great deal in my life just to be me...I'd hate to think about leading dual lives and all of that extra burden to have to carry around...I've just got too much $hit going on for that.

And I'd sure hate to have to answer for it...that would be a living death.

I don't get it either...I suppose for them, any attention is better than no attention at all.

And now, I'll crawl off back to my cave and contine to lick my wounds and fight my other fight, so I can rejoin the community...just saw you and stepped out to say, "W2Go, Ann!"

-Craig

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2184
Joined: Oct 2011

we prefer you to be here on the board, with the rest of us (more or less) real folk, where you do lots of good with your words of wisdom...besides, you can't dance in the sun when you're inside a cave! Hugs~Ann Alexandria

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2184
Joined: Oct 2011

oops...

thxmiker's picture
thxmiker
Posts: 1202
Joined: Oct 2010

There are several people whom claim they have done 24 or 48 FOLFOX treatments once a week. Either they do not understand which Chemo they had or they are stretching the truth a whole lot. The Most one can stand is 12 treatments every 2 weeks for 6 months. Most do not make the 12 treatments. I was strong and fit and only made 10 FolFox treatments and they landed me in the hospital twice, for 12 days total.

From talking with my Oncologist, He told me most do not even know what Chemo they had and will say yes to any question. That is why the Oncologists want the med reports, because soooo many do not know what they were taking.

I can not be a projectile in life. I like to drive.

Best Always, mike

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Sorry, but everyone tolerates each treatment differently, and many of us with stage IV cancer have had a LOT of chemo Myself I didn't tolerate FOLFOX very well. I have an allergy/sensitivity to 5-FU and I am allergic to Oxaliplatin. Using a desensitization protocol they were able to keep me on it for my initial 12 tx (although I didn't have oxy that last one - just 5-FU). But I have one friend who went back to FOLFOX after FOLFIRI quit working. She had over 30tx of FOLFOX. I have another friend who tolerates FOLFOX well and has stayed on it longterm - I'm not sure how many cycles now, but I think she is at 40+.

The standard protocol of 12 tx of chemo is ONLY for those stage II and III. Those of us with advanced disease often don't have an end to chemo - ever. You can't pidgon hole everyone with CRC. One of the biggest mistakes the medical community makes is trying to treat us with standard protocol rather than as individuals. I'm so glad my oncologist has moved from "standard" to "individual" for me.

Personally I have had combos of FOLFOX, FOLFIRI w/Avastin, 5-FU w/Avastin (major failure) Irinotecan w/Avastin, and Irinotecan w/Zaltrap. Besides my initial sigmoid resection I've had a total of 41 chemo treatments, 2 months of daily radiation with two separate set ups for treatment each time (with weekends off), 5 Tomotherapy (radiation) treatments for bone mets, and another 10 Tomotherapy treatments for bone mets. For those of us that live a long time with active disease, you'd be shocked at how much treatment we've had, and just what you can tolerate if required to stay alive.

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

They are certainly out there. I use my real name and am real. But it is so easy to create profiles that are fake anywhere. Right now I am dealing with one of those "too whacky to be true" people in another group. First many of us were very concerned and trying to help. Now that the mother of this young man who is supposed to have cancer doesn't seem to be getting off her butt to do anything to help him (he is 19) we have our doubts. She seems to just be looking for financial help. RED FLAG!

PatchAdams
Posts: 272
Joined: Nov 2011

Many on this forum accused Bruins1971 (Bobby F.) of claiming to be very ill so he could claim God healed him. Or should I say the LATE Bobby F.

I didn't read the articles. I would be very, very angry at anyone who lied about having this awful disease.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2184
Joined: Oct 2011

but I'm sure that has happened more than once on these forums. To me, that's really the worst aspect of having people do things like this. It steals away the community's ability to trust fully, and sometimes people who are "real" may get falsely accused. Loss of trust is something that can't easily be replaced.

Luckygirl2
Posts: 308
Joined: Mar 2012

Why would anyone want to pretend they have this horrible disease and all the suffering and sadness that comes with it... It wasn't just me going thru all that crap, it was my sweet husband who watched me, all but carrying me in the house after treatments, children and grandchildren, my parents who are in their 70s.

It's very sad, sad for us because it causes trust issues and sad for those that do it because they need the attention.

While reading the article, I found I felt sad and angry at the same time.

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