One of the Real Housewives in Atlanta (who is not actually a wife, but a mistress with a disastrous hair weave) pretended to have cancer. When asked by Bravo TV if it was true that she had cancer, she nodded slightly and put her head down sadly. She mainly put her head down to avoid further questions since it turned out she never had cancer and finally admitted that she had never had cancer. The blogs went crazy with the revelation.
A woman in Tennessee, Keele Maynor, was recently arrested for pretending to have breast cancer for several years. The charges are theft and forgery. She accepted cash donations from co-workers, as well as a total of 194 days of paid leave (these days were donated by her colleagues at the office of the City of Chattanooga where she was employed and were worth approximately $18,000).
Once caught, she resigned in December of 2008 but the charges were not filed until recently. The woman, now 38, claims she did have cancer years ago, but is not sure why she felt the need to lie and accept money and donations from co-workers and cancer support groups. She says she is seeing a therapist in order to try to figure out why she spent five years pretending to have the disease.
We spend so much of our lives trying to proactively stay healthy. We read about preventative care, get annual physicals and heave a sigh of relief when the good results come back. So why on earth would anyone actually pretend to have a serious illness?
Some do it simply for profit. Others have a disorder called Munchausen Syndrome - a mental condition whereby people feign illness in order to gain attention, or money or profit in some other way. The payoff is usually tremendous for the people faking the illness. They get a sympathetic ear, constant attention, gifts, cards, emails, money and the time and energy of medical professionals. An area where this syndrome is growing is the Internet. Support groups for people with hundreds of different diseases and conditions are easily accessible and the payoff is often just as good – and actual - as in real life. People have been sent checks, money orders, clothing and supplies, as well as endless on line hugs, emails, letters and attention.
No dummies are they! People who fake these illnesses are actually quite smart. They are well-read in the areas of their “conditions” and know how to talk the talk. They know how they should sound, feel and look. They use medical terms and go as far as to shave their heads and eyebrows to prove that they are receiving treatment. Even more disturbing – websites abound in helping people fake their diseases. The woman in Tennessee is not alone – instances of faking illness are common. A word of caution when joining forums online and offering support to those undergoing treatment for illness: don’t assume everyone on-line is telling the truth. Guard your wallet, your emotions and your privacy.
I was a member of a very well known parenting board once. A long time member broke the news that her young niece had died and she wanted flowers for the child’s grave. She was given about $200 from concerned members and several days later it emerged that there had never been a child – dead or otherwise. The member left the site immediately (or she may have returned as someone else) but had certainly gained much sympathy, attention and money with her lies. I didn’t donate, and never would under these circumstances, but can somewhat understand how first time or new mothers could be so despicably deceived. It was a hard lesson learned by all.
According to Dr. Marc D Feldman, an expert in factitious illnesses, there are signs on the Internet when someone is faking it:
1. the posts consistently duplicate material in other posts, in books, or on health-related websites;
2. the characteristics of the supposed illness emerge as caricatures;
3. near-fatal bouts of illness alternate with miraculous recoveries;
4. claims are fantastic, contradicted by subsequent posts, or flatly disproved;
5. there are continual dramatic events in the person's life, especially when other group members have become the focus of attention;
6. there is feigned blitheness about crises (e.g., going into septic shock) that will predictably attract immediate attention;
7. others apparently posting on behalf of the individual (e.g., family members, friends) have identical patterns of writing.
Do you know someone who has faked illness for attention or profit? Do you use online forums for certain conditions or illnesses and feel that not everyone may be truthful about their health?
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A well-educated woman in a prestigious position always had her vague, but serious illnesses and/or fantastical accidents, with subsequent injuries pop up whenever her long-distance boyfriend opted spend the Holidays with his daughters, when there was an unpleasant situation she wanted to avoid, was in wanting sattention, someone's labor and/or to play victim whenever someone was upset with her. Just before she was about to be fired in a very public and humiliating manner, she opted to resign due to another vague, undiagnosable medical condition. Now with no income and too humiliated to go out and find another position and having to explain her Board of Directors gave her a vote of no confidence, she vigorously pursued obtaining Disability. With a 6 figure salary, Disability income would give her a pretty comfortable lifestyle without having to work. She did her research, identified a disease and started claiming those symptoms, when doctors pointed out her test results were inconsistent with what she was reporting, she was off to a new doctor and a new set of symptoms. When friends would ask how she was, she would give long, exhaustive stories about how her tests were "the worst the doctor have ever seen", but they needed more testing to determine what was her illness. Soon, she was claiming to have Cancer, Mitral-valve prolapse, Addison's Disease, Hashimoto's Disease, a Brain Stem Injury, she was leaking Spinal Fluid from her brain, HBV-6, a brain virus, Lead and Mercury Poisoning, Lyme Disease that has entered her brain, pituitary gland and her organs, etc. She has had Go Fund Me donations on their website, and in person and in emails, has straight up begged and pleaded for money. It was odd how entitled she was and how angry she was when people wouldn't give her their parents' retirement, or pay off her mortgage, pay for her daughter to live in the dorms when she lives 2 blocks from the University, or give her $200K "because they have it". When she isnt begging for money, she is begging for people to come over to clean her house, do repairs and back-breaking yard work, claiming how fun it will be and oh, could they bring dinner, too. My favorite was when she was pleading for money so she couod see a world reknowned expert, who of course, believed she had the worst test results they have ever seen and the docto was the only one who could save her life, and of course it would be a 2-3 week stay to receive this treatment, which happens to be in Maui when there is 2 ft on the ground in Oregon and the weather forecast is another month of 20 degree weather. It has been 3 years, she has given up on receiving Disabilty ever since she was ordered to complete a Psychological Evaluation to determine Malingering. Sadly, people continue to give her thousands upon thousands of dollars, often to their own detriment, shower her with sympathy and their hard labor. I fear she will not be caught and this manipulation game will continue.October 3, 2015 - 8:22pm
I know a girl who I believe faked Asperger's syndrome. We were very close for several years. In the beginning she began to have these eye twitches. They were completely exaggerated twitching which she made sure everyone around her was aware of it, she would ask have you noticed my eyes twitching?
Next it was anemia and again she made sure everyone knew if she didn't have sugar every hour she would pass out.
Soon after that she moved and I didn't see her for a couple of years. She came to visit and told me she was having seizures. I met up with her and she told me she felt one coming on so she went and laid down on the couch. She stretched one leg out while she pushed her head back into the cushion and began to shake her stretched leg.
A few years passed after not seeing each other and she came to visit me at my work. When I gave her a hug she screamed monkey sounds in my ear she started banging her fist on tables then did the number counting thing with her hand. She continued with the most extreme stutter anyone could imagine explaining that she had been diagnosed with a mild form of tourettes called Asperger's. Through her stuttering and monkey sounds she told me she said the N word on a bus and often uses obscenities. Our mutual friend worked with me at that time and after she left we looked at each other and complete disgust. Did she really just fake Aspergers? Did she really get diagnosed? By a doctor? For real? She had asked me to help her with a video Aspergers and that's when I delicately told her what I thought. We are no longer friends.September 10, 2015 - 12:22am
In my 40-plus years as a nurse I have seen people pretend all sorts of things. The most frequent bit of pointless fakery would be pretending to have a seizure .The ruse cannot be sustained, as medical technology can now determine a pseudo seizure from the real thing. One hallmark sign for the nursing staff is that the event is always observed by someone. Oddly enough, some people will still refuse to stop displaying "seizure activity" after they have been found out. And just about as strange, relatives may insist that there just MUST be some mysterious condition that would account for the episodic "fits" ...other than a psychological one, that is.August 18, 2015 - 1:19pm
Is it possible for someone to fake MS? We have a situation whereby my husbands ex had through the length of their marriage a great number of "illnesses" that required her to be in bed all day and prevented her to move when he acquired a job out of state, she actually told my husband that she was going to need a kidney transplant because she had polysystic kidney disease and would probably die in ten years. Once he found out that she was lying about her illnesses and actually out shopping 20-25 days a month and incurring $25,000 on the credit card each month while he thought she was sick and dying (she was 40 at the time), they divorced once he found all of this out and now she claims to have MS and actually has a doctor that went on the stand saying that she definitely has MS...we had an independent doctor examine her and said that although she could have MS based on her self reported symptoms, he thought that she might be after secondary gains. He felt that her MRIs revealed nothing remarkable. She was awarded 5 years of alimony (the judge did not believe she had MS) that ended yesterday and found a 9th attorney (yes, she has gone though 8 lawyers in 5 years) this attorney has set forth a motion for modification of the alimony stating that there has been an extreme change of circmstances. She wants permanent alimony and has refused to work since the divorce and has not worked since marrying my husband 12 years ago. It's a horrible thing to watch and the idea that someone would fake a life threatening illness for money.October 31, 2015 - 1:27pm
I only know one person that 100% pretended to have cancer. I believe she did it for a couple of reasons... Who really know though.. Obviously people who tell others they have cancer, when they actually do not, do so because ; 1 - they want the attention, they do not care what kind of attention they get, as long as they are the center of attention in every conversation. 2 - they are unstable mentally, they don't think of the consequences they will face when found out (if they are found out), they also have no respect for people who actually do have cancer, and are having to deal with the life draining side effects of chemo.
3 - They are trying to get out of having to take responsibility for anything in their life.
The woman I know, who lied about having cancer (but do not associate with unless absolutely necessary) is absolutely out of her mind. The first time she lied about cancer (that I am aware of ) was when she was an attorney (she is now disbarred, and is unable to ever practice law again,(тнanĸ тнe lord) She had started her own law practice after being fired by the city, for having an affair with a co-worker) She ask her wealthy uncle to borrow $25,000 so she could Advertise to get her practice going. When potential clients came in, and decided to hire her, she gladly accepted a retainer fee of $3,000-$5000 from them. Then she basically did nothing on their case. When the people who had paid her would call her to ask for their money back, or their case status, she would pretend to be her secretary and told those calling "I'm sorry M****** has been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She is about to undergo surgery, and is currently going through chemo and radiation.April 24, 2015 - 4:03am
Lying about having Cancer did not help her in the long run, it only prolonged the charges that she was going to have to face for a few months. Many people filed complaints with the Bar. Turned out she had swindled over $340,000 from people in a little less than 2 years. No one knows where the money she had stolen went. Because she has nothing to show for it, and it's not in any bank. People assume it went to support her expensive drug habit
This same woman is also known for her dramatic behavior. She LOVES when a family member, or her current husband who is about 35 years her senior gets sick. It gives her a reason to sit on her lazy keister! But she tells anyone, including her children who are 12, and 15 she is unable to do this or that for them because Aunt SusieQ is sick and she has to go help her, even though she has never helped anyone in her life.
I don't know if she actually even knows anyone who has had cancer. If they did have cancer they wouldn't tell her, because she would make their cancer, ALL ABOUT HER.
Just like when her 99 year old grandmother died, she made the death all about her. Even after the funeral and a few weeks had passed by. She decided that she needed to sue her grandmothers caretakers for neglect, stating that they were not attending to her needs. Even though the caretaker was the daughter, and her husband. Who are very wealthy (actually the same people who she borrowed $25,000 to start her new business of stealing from people)
Everyone knows how mentally unstable this woman is. No one believes a word she says, her own family refuses to associate with her because of the risk involved if they do. She will not hesitate to spread a nasty rumor online and destroy a persons reputation, if you refuse to give her what she wants.
We believe she might actually be a sociopath. She use to be a functioning sociopath for about 4 years, but since being fired from the city, it's been an ugly downward spiral since....
get real people. Cancer is a very serious illness. I have lost one sister to it and another who is fighting it. Faking cancer......and no one noticed? Real Cancer sufferers are going through hell every day of their lives. It can not be faked to anyone who is living near you. Shame on all of those people who are pretending to have cancer. There is simply no excuse for this kind of deceptionApril 22, 2015 - 6:56pm
I have lost both parents and a favorite aunt to lung cancer. The memories of their suffering will haunt me forever. I have been in two situations where persons I know ( co-workers ) have pretended to have cancer in order to gain sympathy and attention from persons who are clueless and unaware of this pathetic and offensive manner of gaining sympathy. People will post this on Facebook in attempts to extort money for unsuspecting people. All of this sickens me to the core of my being, due to the fact I have seen people suffer horribly. I have cared for AID's patients and my family, plus combined with the deaths of my parents and others, this has taxed me emotionally. This behavior goes beyond wrong, because the people doing this are very intelligent and are manipulating others very well..July 4, 2015 - 11:37am
My foster sister has Ehler danlos syndrome but constantly claims to have other disorders as well. I have many many disorders all diagnosed but every time I get a new diagnosis (which I hate because it means I have more problems!!!) she claims to have the same thing but has no knowledge as to what the symptoms are until a few days later when she suddenly knows every symptom and exactly how the diagnosis process works. I feel bad doubting her because she's my big sister and she does have a disorder...but im really tired of her claiming to have ocd, misophonia and dysautonomia (some of the more major disorders ive been diagnosed with), etc because im suffering and she's making everything about her!April 4, 2015 - 4:13pm
I've been reading through these comments and your story really stands out to me. I understand that the situation with your sister must be difficult for you, especially having to deal with your diagnoses. It sounds to me like your sister may be affected by factitious disorder. Not to add another thing to her list of diagnoses, but it's something that needs to be addressed.
The reason I'm reaching out to you is because I'm working on a project dedicated to helping people who suffer from factitious disorder (aka Munchausen syndrome), and I think your sister is in need of treatment.
I know it's difficult to deal with this kind of behavior, but it's part of a much more serious diagnosis, and helping her through this would release you from having to deal with it anymore. I would love to talk to you more about your situation with your sister, if you are willing, and perhaps we can discuss how my team can help you help your sister.
If you'd like to speak with me more about this.June 25, 2015 - 10:06am
[Phone number removed by Moderator per EmpowHER policy, please PM).
NEW Television Program to help Family of People who are Faking Illnesses or TraumaJune 8, 2015 - 4:54pm
My name is Blair and I am working on a project about people with Munchausen Syndrome or any kind of factitious disorder.
We are setting up a program which will allow you, your friends and loved ones to get help in an environment with mental health professionals who know how to handle this situation.
If you are interested in hearing more, please contact me as soon as possible.