Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A dangerous disease

Here at Okay Seriously, we care about your health. I'm not sure why I just said 'we' since it's only me, but it's fine. Anyway, the best way to protect yourself against health problems is to arm yourself with knowledge. And today I would like to discuss a disease called N Cancer which is a form of cancer that is not cancerous. Symptoms to watch out for include:

- A fake case of anemia
- Bragging about organ removal
- Making up names and stories of people in your fake support group
- Running to the bathroom to fake throw up
- Becoming addicted to cocaine (by "addicted" I mean that you never actually use cocaine)
- Going away on weekend trips to the Smoky Mountains* by yourself** just to "get away"
- Absolutely no weight loss
- Absolutely no hair loss
- Having friends who are total suckers

* Family wedding in Michigan
** With your parents

Six years ago I had a friend who had this disease. In fact it is named after him. He displayed these symptoms for 8 months. Thankfully, there is a cure. All you have to do is find out the truth that your friend has been faking cancer and magically he or she will be in remission. It's a miracle!!! In N's case, he was very sick with N Cancer until our friend Sudha asked N's dad about how N was dealing with his cancer, and his dad said, "Um....what?"

To cut to the point, yes, in 1999 one of my very best friends faked having cancer for 8 months. He was pre-med so he knew all the medical terms, the treatments, the medicines, the stages, etc. He made up stories about the people in his support group. He called me every night in the middle of the night to come sit with him and hold his hand and cry with him. He would run to the bathroom and "throw up" while we were over. He bought his clothes in bigger sizes so it looked like he was losing weight. When we went to confront him he even told us that the reason his dad didn't know what Sudha was talking about was because only his mom knew. And when I said, "Okay then I'll just go ask your mom." He lunged after me. My ex and Sudha had to pull him off of my back. Then he ran away. Within a week, the truth just started pouring in. He had told us he got accepted to Stanford medical school and even printed out his class schedule to show Diane. He didn't even get in to med school-anywhere. He told his parents that my mom had breast cancer (not true thank God). He told people that he and I were dating (mah!). He told people he was addicted to cocaine and alcohol. All lies.

All of N's friends cried for 8 months thinking our friend was dying. On the day we found out it was all bogus, we laughed our asses off. I think it's because we were so relieved that he wasn't sick, and also the holy-shit-that-is-fucked-up factor. He tried reconciling by sending us all the same email claiming he really was sick and that his parents didn't know about it, only his uncle did (who when asked about it was like, "WTF?"). In the email one paragraph was "personalized" for each person. In my personalized paragraph he said he was going crazy without me. I think we can all agree that by that point, he had already arrived at Crazy Land, set up residence and was paying taxes.

About 2 weeks after everything came to light, N's little brother saw my sister somewhere and said, "So is your sister, like, still really mad?" Um yeah-you could say that.


Erik with a K said...


I cannot even imagine this. I really can't. Talk about believing the lie! He was in some seriously bad place where only N Cancer patients can go.

My mom and sister had cancer, and if any of my friends faked cancer for 8 months, I'd beat them within an inch of their life, or at least until my arms hurt or the hockey stick broke. Seriously!

The sad part is that I thought about faking something to get in with the "lunch" crowd and not be an outsider. Every night, I tried to practice having a lazy eye, faked hammer toes, deafness, partial-sack-atosis and irritable bowel syndrome. In the end, they were all repulsive, so I went as, ahem, the new original.

Sarah said...

Erik, I'm sorry to hear about your mom and sister. :( A friend of mine's boyfriend had cancer right around the same time as all of this, and we used to swap sad stories. Well, her boyfriend died, and by the time the funeral came around, I had found out N was lying. When I went up to hug her at the wake, the first thing she said to me was, "I'm thinking about you and your friend." I didn't have the heart to tell her the truth nor did I think it was the appropriate time. All I kept thinking was, "Oh my God-this girl just lost the love of her life to cancer, and she is thinking of N? The bastard who doesn't deserve anyone's pity!?" I have never been so angry. I just wanted to wail on him until he hurt as bad as she did.

By the way, for future reference if you are trying to become part of the lunch crowd: lazy eye = in, IBS = out.

Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

Sarah - this is absolutely a real thing! My brother in Boston knew a family where the wife told frieds she had cancer, and used her friends for free daycare while she went to "treatments".
She also told her friends her husnad was sleeping around on her, which turned all the friends against him and he didn't know what was going on until one of the friends confrunted him on it.
He was blown away, as she didn't have cancer. This all ended up in divorce court and my sister in law had to testify because they were trying to take custody away from the crazy lady. Scarry stuff.

John said...

I'm going to come clean. I have been faking male pattern baldness for the last several years. Man it feels good to finally tell you guys the truth. I'm sorry I let it go on for this long.

sara said...

without making the story too long, know you aren't alone. my "best friend" in college was just as psychotic. only it was her dad that had cancer. but that wasn't where the lies ended. that was barely the beginning.

i had set her up with a good friend of mine and after they started dating he and i really drifted apart. it wasn't until a random call i received from him one night that we got to talking about why we weren't close anymore. turns out she had been feeding him all sorts of lies about me. turns out she had been feeding a lot of people lies about me. and lies about them to me. so he and i stopped talking to her. just cut our ties and walked away. i lost a lot of friends after i stopped talking to her, only to have them slowly, one by one, come to realize her lies on their own and come to me with apologies.

she got kicked out of school, was living back home with her mom, and was in serious therapy last i heard.

it's all just so sad to me. i just can't imagine living a life like that.

Charlotte said...

Wow.. That is truly f***ed up! I can't imagine why anyone would want to fake being sick. I know what it's like to actually be sick. I can't imagine how hard it is to pretend! I was told by stupid Dr.s that I had lymphoma, thankfully after surgery it turned out to be infection. I do however have RA and Lupus. It sucks, the look of pity from people sucks.. not being able to do what a 20something should be able to is no fun. I just don't understand why someone would want to pretend, there are better ways to get attention. Sorry you're going through that.. it must be hard to find out your friend isn't who you thought.

Sarah said...

Charlotte, I'm sorry to hear about your health problems! I have a friend with Lupus, and I know how much it takes out of her. The thing that makes me the most mad about what he did is that there are people with real illnesses dealing with things he could never imagine, and I wasted so much energy feeling bad for him and trying to help him through something that wasn't even real. It all happened a long time ago--like 6 years. So I have dealt with it. The good thing that has come out of it is that it is an endless source of jokes.

Diane said...

This was the weirdest thing ever. So many stories about N. The day that my ex and I broke up after 5 1/2 years of dating was the same day he decided to tell everyone that he only had 1 year to live. He just couldn't let anyone else have the attention! PSYCHO!

Beck said...

N sounds like one creepy, creepy dude. He isn't, by chance, Mark Hacking is he?