Did you hear the one about the Calgary woman who faked cancer to raise money through a GoFundMyHeroinAddiction account, bilking supporters out of $15,000? Sadly, this is no April Fool’s joke. The woman’s lawyer sought probation only for her, but this week, Ms. Faker (Ms. Attention Seeker? Ms. Despicable?) was sentenced to 60 days in prison to be served on weekends, 100 hours of community service, and financial restitution to a cancer foundation.
Ruling on this woman’s abhorrent behaviour could not have been easy. Despite the judge’s knowledge of jurisprudence, I believe my experience with cancer might better qualify me to determine the appropriate punishment. By now, you have certainly picked up how judgey–and by that I mean “judgemental”, not “judge-like”–I am. If not, I’ll remind you.
Dear Well-Meaning Judge:
I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of an appropriate punishment in this case, but I have several problems with your ruling. I trust His Honour won’t mind hearing me out.
I am glad that Ms. Faker will serve time, but on the weekends only? I have cancer 7 days a week; I don’t get scheduled breaks. If I did, I’d still be working to support my family.
I believe that Ms. Faker would learn more by serving her time on consecutive days in our Cancer Centre. Consider it an experiential incarceration: she could live and breathe cancer! Let her sit for hours in cramped waiting rooms amongst patients who are truly suffering. Radiation and chemotherapy waiting areas? Outpatient hallways? All are overflowing with sick and dying patients.
Ms. Faker may benefit from a round or seven of IV chemotherapy to truly understand cancer treatment. Immerse her in the exhaustion, nausea, lack of appetite, swelling, and jaundice, among other discomforts. Radiation is no walk in the park if she’d like to try that too.
When these interventions suppress her white blood cell counts, rendering her vulnerable to an opportunistic infection, Ms. Faker can spend time at the cancer inpatient unit until she is better. This could take a few days, weeks, or months, depending on how ill she gets, and may require a field trip to the ICU. If the cancer units are full, there’s often turnover in the palliative wing, which is not the liveliest setting. Only one person died during my brief stay there.
These varied cancer-like experiences will allow Ms. Faker to fulfill her 60-day sentence, after which she may complete her community service hours on site. First, she will need to seek a spot each morning in the cramped parking lot–no discounted parking for her. (I realize this daily fee may slow her financial restitution, but I’m trying to create a genuine cancer experience for her.) I’d suggest assigning her to admonishing those hovering outside the Cancer Centre doors for smoking on hospital grounds. Or perhaps she’d prefer to hang out in the lobby, directing the hordes of terrified newbies to their first appointments.
Sadly, these experiences will not create the overwhelming anxiety a cancer diagnosis does. She’d have to be diagnosed with cancer to appreciate that. But maybe the exposure could at least deter her from trying the same scam when she is next short on cash.
Thank you for considering my input.
A genuine leukemia patient