Maria Yeager

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Faking Cancer

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I have to admit that I do watch The Real Housewives of Orange County. I have been glued to the television this season as Meghan King Edmonds took on Brooks Ayers and Vicki Gunvalson regarding the whole cancer story line. I think the reason that I was so intrigued is because I went through something similar in my own life.

About five years ago, a family member on my ex-husband’s side of the family told us that her daughter had malignant melanoma. Now, I should share with all of you my background. I have a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and I have worked in the field of cytogenetics for close to twenty years with the majority of my work in cancer cytogenetics. I have seen so many incredibly sad cases of people who have fought cancer for years and have suffered the pain and side effects of chemotherapy. Especially vivid in my mind are memories of the young children who have undergone repeated bone marrow biopsies because they weren’t responding to chemotherapy.

When I was given the news that this two-year old had malignant melanoma, my heart just about stopped as I knew that this was the deadly form of skin cancer. I told the mother that this was very serious, and that treatment needed to be started immediately. She told me that the doctor wasn’t going to do anything for several months and was just going to “watch” it. I was stunned. I proceeded to explain that any good oncologist would not delay treatment on a two-year old child with malignant melanoma. She began to tell me that it really wasn’t a big deal as she knew people who had skin cancer, and they just had the cancer cut out (she was referring to friend of the family that had sarcomas cut out of his arm). I realized at that point that she was confused, and I explained to her that there are different forms of skin cancer, most of which can be treated just by “cutting it out”. However, malignant melanoma was not one of them. If not treated aggressively, this little girl could die. I went on to explain that there wasn’t an oncologist out there that would delay treatment on this little girl if she had malignant melanoma. I was very suspicious that the mother wasn’t being truthful. Either she was flat-out lying, or she was confused.

After this phone call, the entire family became eerily quiet. I repeatedly explained to my ex-husband the severity of the situation, but there wasn’t much of a reaction. One day, I asked my ex to sit with me and watch a video on malignant melanoma, but he refused. He didn’t want to talk about the situation. I knew for sure at that point that this little girl didn’t have the deadly form of skin cancer. She was never treated for malignant melanoma.

While watching The Real Housewives of Orange County, I was able to identify so closely with Brianna. I understood everything she said, and I felt like I had been in her shoes. One thing is for certain – never try to fake cancer to someone with a medical background, especially someone who has worked in the cancer field. Brianna, being an ER nurse, knew what she was talking about as was Meghan King Edmonds who was dealing with terminal cancer with Lee Anne, her husband’s ex-wife.

Those who fake cancer should be completely ashamed. Not only have I worked in the cancer field, but my father also passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. Brooks certainly didn’t fit the description of someone who was suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. There are people out there who are hurting….really hurting…emotionally, physically, and mentally from this horrible disease. Those who fake it will surely have it come back and smack them square in the face when they try to pass their stories on to those of us who know better. There is nothing more evil than to lie about something like that when there are real people out there dealing with real cancer!


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