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Old 02-17-2013, 05:22 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 15,370,975 times
Reputation: 10248

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I recently terminated a friendship with someone who fabricated an extremely detailed and plausible fake (pancreatic) cancer scenario. He fooled his employer and co-workers, friends, ex-wife, son and pretty much everyone close to him.

The real issue was alcoholism and his loss of control around alcohol. He was extremely clever and plausible; this is a smart, upper-management, white-collar salaried person. I, as a platonic and close friend, got taken...he cried and freaked out and wove some extremely elaborate and believable stories about his impending death from pancreatic cancer. Myself, other friends and co-workers arranged fund-raisers, food drives and other efforts on his behalf. We cooked for him, held his hand while he had suicidal crises, drove him to "chemo" and "support" meetings, cried with him, spent hours on the phone listening to him weep, seriously, the whole deal.

After about six moths, it turned out he made the entire thing up. He WAS very sick - could have died from alcohol detox and spent almost three weeks in hospital- but absolutely did NOT have cancer. He is an extremely intelligent person and fabricated the entire cancer hoax in order to deflect attention from out-of-control alcohol abuse. As an aside - I think he may be a high-functioning Aspie. He sincerely seems to be blind to how other people respond and is a little odd socially.

What made this even more objectionable, is that he initiated this hoax in early 2012...right after a very, very close mutual friend died of ovarian cancer in December 2011 after a two-year-long battle. As to why I remained friends and contact with Mr Fake Cancer for over a year...it was because I and other friends decided that no matter what, he was a sick puppy and an otherwise good and kind person, so we agreed to maintain support.

I withdrew support recently because it has been over two years, and he has never once apologised or acknowleged bad behaviour. After all this time, I decided that he wasn't adding anything to my quality of life (I know that sounds selfish) and he was, essentially, a user. To be even more clear: my history clearly indicates that I am extremely sympathetic to addiction issues and alcoholism in particular. The fact that he chose to concoct elaborate and plausible lies over simply being honest with a good friend was frankly insulting and dismissive of six years of friendship.

It is water under the bridge; we're done. I have terminated the friendship. However, part of me feels guilty or as if I could have done better. Thus this thread. I don't imagine many people here have been the victims of elaborate cancer hoaxes....but if you can imagine such a thing, how do you think you'd react? What do you think the motive behind such a hoax might be? Do you think I was wrong to terminate friendship?

Or anything else. I am having a hard time with cutting off a previuosly good friendship (never romantic, but we've gone on camping trips together). On the other hand, how good of a friendship could it have been for him to perpetrate a fraud like this? On the other other hand, am I being callous to someone with (I think) Aspergers or some sort of personality disorder?

Clearly I am not comfortable with my decision. Ask me any question. I am still struggling with this.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:59 PM
 
4,728 posts, read 4,476,403 times
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Since you know what a slow painful death by cancer entails, I would imagine you have had enough. I know that if I had a friend who lied to me about such a terrible thing, I would no longer be his/her friend. There are limits to what a friend should expect you to put up with. He crossed the line, and he did it intentionally. Even someone with a personality disorder knows what lying is. He even let you and his other friends have fund raisers. Do not feel guilty; he used everyone around him.
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:33 PM
 
28,905 posts, read 46,750,956 times
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Don't feel guilty in the least. A man who would go to such elaborate lengths to fool you is not a man whom you should ever trust again.
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:59 PM
 
4,787 posts, read 9,308,292 times
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The man is a sociopath. He knew exactly what he was doing. People know right from wrong. He chose to do wrong.

He chose to commit criminal fraud ( fund raisers) . Did you know that taxes are due to the IRS & state on monies raised from fund raisers unless they put into a trust solely to be used for their intended purpose. In this case that would be to pay hospital bills for chemo.

Don't make excuses for Aspie, etc. This guy knew perfectly well what he was doing and chose to use everyone around him. There is no reason for you to feel guilty. This guy is just bad news all around. I'd avoid him like the plague.

There is no core to him. He doesn't care about you, your friends, his family, etc. This is all about him. Given the chance, he'd do the same thing all over again.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:20 PM
 
5,702 posts, read 16,199,150 times
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How horrible! I would have to end the friendship. I have a friend that told me a story about something from her past that just broke my heart. She had lost a baby to SIDS. She said it was devastating. A few months later she ran into a co-worker of her cousin. This woman asked how my friend was and she hoped the funds that were raised helped out with the funeral expenses. My friend was dumbfounded. Well turns out her cousin told everyone at her job that a fund had been set up, so she collected thousands of dollars from these people and kept the money. My friend had no idea about any of it.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:23 PM
 
Location: SW Missouri
15,847 posts, read 30,373,205 times
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I wouldn't be close, but I'd stay in contact. When his karma catches up with him, he's gonna need all the friends he can get.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:33 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 15,370,975 times
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I didn't bring up the Aspergers thing as an excuse for what he did so much as a reason why I think he is incapable for understanding how what he did affected other people, if that makes sense? But point taken on not using it as an excuse for bad behaviour.

To be clear, I have terminated this friendship; back in November I told him that I could no longer be friends with him because of this.

Quote:
He chose to commit criminal fraud ( fund raisers) . Did you know that taxes are due to the IRS & state on monies raised from fund raisers unless they put into a trust solely to be used for their intended purpose. In this case that would be to pay hospital bills for chemo.
I didn't know this! Ultimately, he did not benefit financially from the fundraiser, though. Someone he works with set it up through a pancreatic cancer support website and people pledged money to participate in a "walk" event. His deception came to light before that could happen (when he ended up in the ER with liver ascites, then was in a detox unit, then a psych unit) so I don't think any money was actually spent. I pledged but never actually shelled out any money; nor did I participate in the walk.

Thanks for confirming that I shouldn't feel guilty, though. He seemed to understand when I told him why I decided this friendship had run its course, but he mailed me a Christmas present and a few days ago called me on my birthday with a happy birthday message. I responded to neither but I guess the birthday message made me feel a little sad about the lost/ended friendship.

I can't wrap my head around the mindset of someone who could do such a thing! Especially so soon after we had lost a dear, mutual friend to cancer. I suppose that's why he used cancer as a cover-up for his drinking. How callous.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
2,377 posts, read 2,606,412 times
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I have ulcerative colitis and quite often I tell people that I have cancer. It's the only way to get a response that is appropriate for the disease.

I'd say your friend did have a serious sickness, it just wasn't a socially kosher one. Very similar to my scenario except at any time I can choose to explain the truth in detail without you saying "oh well you deserve it hope you die".

Actually I've been in a complete opposite scenario.. I WAS dieing and living with close friends. I was just laying in my bed all day and all they did was hound me for rent. Eventually I had to make a call to my father who drove 400 miles and took me to almost die in a hospital for 3 weeks. Then it was 4 months of recovery (which neither was guaranteed to work). But because I DIDN'T have cancer and a disease instead no one heard about they didn't believe it as true and just saw me as bumming out. So I've lost many friends over similar situations.

(btw I did have the rent, but if that was a thought in your mind I guess you're not much different)

Last edited by MikeNigh; 02-18-2013 at 10:18 AM..
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:39 AM
 
3,257 posts, read 4,482,556 times
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How much do you know about alcoholism? Alcoholics do terrible things, everything centers around them, they hurt people, even loved ones, and rarely do they apologize until they have worked the AA program. He was elaborate that's for sure. You don't have to be friends with him, it would probably be best in the long run if he did lose friends. He needs to work the program and take accountability for his actions. All of them, and he knows it.

I'm not making any excuse for him whatsoever. Just so you know this is how it works with alcoholics. They will go to any lengths if they are still enough in control of their faculties.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Southern California
5,485 posts, read 8,160,130 times
Reputation: 5157
Asperger's or not, this is a big betrayal of your trust. Of all the words in your post, the statement that stuck out to me was when you said that "he wasn't adding anything to my quality of life." To me, whether it's a frienship or romantic relationship, there should always have each person in the relationship CONTRIBUTING something good. I think you've answered your own dilemna. If he's not contributing anything to this friendship, who needs him. It's not your fualt that he has Asperger's or whatever it may be. He'll make other friends later I'm sure.

People shouldn't be dragged down & burdened by friendships (or romantic relationships). Life's too short for that nonsense. Free yourself from this guy!
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