A riveting true story of false cancer that describes the emotions experienced by those who are misled

Dvora Meyers | January 2020

The Disease of Deceit
Friends don’t let friends lie about having cancer.

In June, I woke to an alert from Facebook, a notification of memory from five years ago. It was a photo of a woman in a park, leaning over, kissing the top of my dog’s head. The woman’s face was partially hidden but I immediately knew who it was — Chaya.

This photo was snapped at a picnic Chaya hosted at the park. The purpose of this gathering of friends was to celebrate her surviving “trigeminal neuralgia [and] CML,” as she put it in the email invitation, using the abbreviation for chronic myelogenous leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow.

“I still have a road ahead but I have a lot to celebrate and be grateful for,” Chaya wrote. The picnic was scheduled after Sabbath morning services at a nearby synagogue where she would be “benching gomel,” which is a prayer one recites after surviving something potentially fatal. A car accident. An illness. Even something as dangerously mundane as childbirth.

I can’t remember if the photo of Chaya and my dog was candid or if it was posed. It’s most likely the latter because my dog is notoriously uncooperative when it comes to looking at the camera for photos. It usually takes a treat in my hand to move her head in the right direction and keep it there. Anyway, it works better for the story if this photo was staged because, as we would learn nearly five years later, almost everything in Chaya’s life had been staged to elicit maximum sympathy. She had lied about almost everything about herself, including having cancer.

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