Monday, August 13, 2012

cancer comrade or internet impostor?

I'm taking a break from my break to warn you about this growing compendium of losers:

(image from Gawker's own article on Warrior Eli)

Be wary of cancer fakers, my friends! Trust your intuition & arm yourself with the knowledge that, yes, there are people out there that lie about this stuff.

From my own personal experience, here are a few "tells":

1.) People lying about cancer online often add inconsequential medical jargon to their stories to make them seem more credible. If you're a cancer survivor, you can usually sniff this out fairly easily-- do the diagnosis/treatments add up? Is their story *almost* too outlandish to be true? Does it sound like they're getting cancer treatment from Wikipedia General?

2.) Cancer Fakers almost always place extreme emphasis on exact dates-- i.e. "I was in remission for 6 years 4 months 8 days and 41 seconds exactly before I relapsed and had surgery at eleven-forty-five-pee-ehm on Tuesday December 12th 2012 and while they were taking out my malignant tumor I gave birth to a beautiful healthy eight-pound-thirty-two-ounce baby girl who's birthday is now 12-12-12 which is also my great-grandmother's birthday and therefore a sign of luck that I will beat cancer miraculously". Somehow they all think this will add credibility to their scam. You know you'd be too groggy to remember that shit. Or care to repeat it at all.

3.) They have brand-new Caringbridge, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogger, and charity pages that pop up immediately overnight. Usually this happens organically, over time, through family members as the *real* patient goes through treatment. Look at the wording, sentence structure, and misspellings of the entries and comments. Do they ALL seem to come from the same person?

4.) On the topic of family-- Cancer fakers usually make theirs up. Often with really stupid trendy-fantasy names like Gideon, Elijah, Braiden, Destinaijah, Meridian. It tends to reek of a tween girl's discarded game of MASH. There are Fakers who create sock-puppet accounts on social networking sites for an entire fictional support circle in order to boost credibility. Seriously.

5.) The pictures posted are all closely cropped, purportedly in a hospital, but you'll never see machinery or an IV pole (which, as we know, becomes inseparable to us during chemo). Look out for STUBBLE on a supposedly bald-from-chemo head, and acne/redness in the cheeks, which chemo absolutely does away with. Chemo makes your skin clear & pallid. Cara had red, craggy acne all over her chin--I shrugged off clues like this without even raising a (newly grown in) eyebrow.

6.) They readily publicize an Amazon wishlist or pry for gifts/money/sympathy. The majority of Cancer Fakers seem to be young, very bored, insecure girls with nothing else going for them & probably not much love in their lives. boo hoo. Get a hobby.

Has anyone else had an encounter with a Cancer Faker?

**Please do not take this list as definitive "proof" that someone is lying about having cancer-- it is meant only as a mildly amusing guide to help you identify predatory behaviour and avoid being duped. Use your intuition & common sense out there in the YA cancer community! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

hello old friend

I haven't posted in a few months, why?

I've been going to therapy since May & have made an important personal discovery: almost all of the problems I've had in my life, whether it be with work, friendship, relationships, mental health, everything-- all of my choices in the last 20 years-- have been due to my low self-esteem issues. Have always been due to low self-esteem. I'm tempted to write an entire dissertation but will just leave it at that.

I wish someone had told me this 10 years ago, but alas. I had to figure it out on my own.

So, it's been necessary to work on other things besides this blog & cancer advocacy-- problems that existed before cancer, but have been exaggerated by the trauma of chronic illness. For years now I haven't been able to put my finger on my own unhappiness. I'm starting to get it now.

this book is written for middle-aged housewives but totally changed my life. 

I have been freelance designing and am still looking for a stable job. Still waiting for a disability decision. Still in chronic pain. Still don't have insurance & have been turned away from care several times because I can't pay out-of-pocket. I've looked into getting insurance through the freelancer's union but they don't accept pre-existing conditions (yet). what bullshit.

Still trying to figure it out, 3 years later.

On a positive note, here are two rad girls that have both survived Ewing's Sarcoma. I met Melissa at the beginning of the year and already feel so close to her-- like a sister. She found me through this blog, which is true confirmation that I'm doing something right by sharing my life. Feels like fate. I'm so glad she reached out to me. Another one of us in remission, fuck yeah.