Article first published as Faking Cancer to Cash In on Blogcritics.
In staying away from TV news, one can miss a lot of interesting stories. The one that piques my interest this week is of Jessica Vega and her alleged cancer hoax. I happened to catch it streaming on my computer. This story is a train wreck I couldn’t help but follow.
It seems an engaged Jessica informed many people that she had terminal cancer. This prompted sympathy from not only her family and her intended groom, but also from a wedding dress shop, a jeweler and a reception hall. Someone even donated the honeymoon trip to Aruba.
All was well, until Jessica – strong as an ox and apparently not suffering any ill effects from chemo – was discovered to be perpetrating a hoax, by husband Michael O’Connell, no less. It appears he called her doctor to verify her condition and was given the glad (sad) news that she had never been a patient.
Now the couple is headed for divorce court.
Supposedly, Jessica is suffering from a mental disorder (although she claims her cancer is real and that she is well now due to a change in diet) called antisocial personality disorder, the gist of the disorder is as follows:
Antisocial personality disorder (ASP disorder) is a mental illness that usually becomes apparent during adolescence, before the age of fifteen. Symptoms usually include antisocial behavior in which there is little concern for the rights of others such as indifference to the moral or legal standards of the region or community. Behavior patterns usually include excessive drinking, fighting and irresponsibility. A key to the disorder is long lasting, persistent, manipulative, exploitive actions and manners that determinedly ignore others. For a diagnosis, some clinicians insist that the behavioral pattern be exhibited during childhood. Some clinicians believe that genetic makeup contributes to the cause of the disorder, but a detailed understanding of the cause remains elusive.
Then I clicked on a link to a story where even more of these cancer hoaxes have popped up in recent history. This looks like a widespread problem. All of the supposed “patients” garnered monetary support as well as sympathy. Some of them have been prosecuted.
As the friend and relative of people I know who have in the past and are currently in treatment for various forms of cancer, I find this behavior troubling to say the least. Those who are truly battling cancer know it’s no picnic. It’s certainly not cause to get out the cash register and cha-ching! capitalize on a terminal illness. It’s stressful, it’s painful, it’s sad. It’s not a pretty picture to watch the disintegration of a loved one. It’s a burden on family members, trying to make the patient comfortable, dealing with insurance issues and trying to say the right things before the eventual end.
All I could think is that it takes a lot of chutzpah for Jessica Vega to perpetrate a lie of this dimension.
It is unknown of charges will be laid against the faux-sick bride. If found guilty she should be made to pay back everyone who donated to her wedding as well as serve jail time.
At the very least, her punishment should include some community service in a hospice.