How can I tell if someone is lying about their brain cancer?
August 23, 2011 3:12 PM Subscribe
Are we party to someone else’s delusion and/or scam? I am concerned that a colleague of my husband’s is so mentally ill/needy that she has invented a lethal illness; and now this deception/delusion has spread to involve many other people. Long explanation inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (61 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My husband often collaborates with a fellow musician (we’ll call her Sheila) who he met via an online community; she also lives in our town. She is very talented, but also very mentally unbalanced, which manifests as mood swings, flashbacks, and compulsive, constant, talking, except when she is playing music. She has kids that currently live with her parents because neither she nor her estranged husband are capable of caring for them.
In the course of getting to know my husband she has told him that her flashbacks are to a time when, as a child, her parents let her be sexually abused in a child prostitution ring; the money she lives on now is a settlement from this time. These are the same parents who now have custody of her kids, so they’re not in jail, which seems…odd. She claims that she was “brainwashed”: by methods involving drugs, hypnotism by flashing lights (such that she freaks out at the sight of police lights), and that she sustained a head injury from a beating that resulted in her now having a glioblastoma in her brain.
About that glioblastoma; several months ago, she announced she was getting it operated on the next day..and that she was being admitted for surgery at midnight. We expressed surprise at a surgery being scheduled that late; she said that it was because she was Jewish and that she was getting a special deal with the surgeon (also Jewish) and help from the local Jewish community. When we saw her a day or so later, there was no evidence of a bandage on her head (though she does have long thick hair) or bruising from an IV on her hand. I had serious doubts at this point but said nothing.
A few months ago, my husband’s best friend killed himself; two days after the funeral, Sheila told him tearfully that the glioblastoma was malignant and she was going to die. For a while she simply hung out seeking comfort; then a month or so later, she revealed that another surgery might help her, although the odds were not good. Rumors had been circulating in the online community they were in, and she finally told some other people about the situation. Multiple fundraisers sprang up, eventually raising thousands of dollars for her surgery and/or aftercare. If she died on the table, the money was to go to a charity.
This surgery was also scheduled at 11pm last night, another favor from a local surgeon. Her estranged husband was supposedly the person sending my husband and other friends text updates on her condition, though oddly, he used her phone to do so. He texted that one point she apparently was in a brief “coma;” at another in “shock.” But then, apparently the hospital sent her home at 2am because she was “doing well” and is sleeping at home as I post.
My husband mainly sees her as a music colleague and also is reluctant to accuse anyone of lying about a fatal illness. I feel like there’s red flags everywhere. She has not asked us for money, but has taken several thou from other people at this point, and I’m pretty freaked out by the whole situation.