My nightly chocolate-eating (doctor’s orders, and not THIS doctor, a real one!)-news watching-sleep inducing routine was interrupted last night by a story on the news I struggle to understand. A local woman (whose name I wont even MENTION, thus I sully my lips, nor type, thus I sully my keyboard) has been ‘faking it.’ By ‘faking, I mean ‘committing fraud,’ and by ‘it’ I mean ‘acting Cancerific, to the nth degree.’ Apparently, she doctored records from both a famous breast clinic in town and a hospital in Boston. Apparently, she has had at least 17 fundraisers held in her name, the latest raising $20,000 for her ‘treatments.’ Apparently, she shaved her head and eyebrows to fake it.
Apparently, she didn’t go far enough. I think the proper punishment for this particular type of fraud should be that she has to go through what genuine Cancerific folk have to go through. First, we will put her through the anxiety of finding a lump, then give her the stress of the mammogram, followed by the sheer terror of having the doctor tell her, “I’m sorry, but we found something on your film.”
Next, we will show her what it is REALLY like to be Cancerific. Make her choose between losing her breasts or 7 weeks of radiation pulsed into her body. Make it close to her heart, so she knows what it is like to worry that a wrong placement of beams could be deadly. Make her take Tamoxifen for 5 years so she can experience the night sweats, bone aches, and mood swings of a medication that could, not will, lengthen her life. Then we will make her take chemo. Make her see what it is like to lose her hair. Make her understand that it isn’t just the hairs on her head and eyebrows that will fall out. Make her understand that she will also lose her nose, pubic, and @$$ hairs. Make her really value those hairs and see their true purposes.
Once she has finished her rounds of surgery, radiation, and chemo, we will give her a year of follow up and recovery. Show her what it is like to worry about every single lump, every sniffle, every rash–is it a recurrence? Did The Guys In The White Van get me again? Show her what it is like to have at one’s disposal all the kings horses AND men and still not be able to put your humpty dumpty breasts back together again, because there ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, Baby.
Finally, she will be forced to share at Breast Cancer support groups around the city how she scammed the good people of her small community out of thousands of dollars that was really meant for them. Let her look at the faces of the women who could have used that money for treatment, for medication, for childcare, for wigs. Let her see the fear in the newly diagnosed sitting around the table. Let her see the strength and dignity in a genuine Stage 4 patient as she faces her final days. Let her understand the severity of her fraud.
Because, it wasn’t just her small, loyal community that was duped in this case, it was everyone ever touched by Breast Cancer. Because those among us who ARE Cancerific know we find support from those who have walked before us and depend on our friends who lift us when we can’t go on alone. Because now people could, at least for a little while, think about all the other women they know who say they have been visited by The Guys…”were they telling the truth? Or am I going to find out in a couple years that was a scam too…?”
Let the punishment fit the crime, I say. G-d bless this woman’s soul. Because I cannot.