June 07, 2006


It is painfully obvious, but most people do not appreciate being taken advantage of. Count that as a major pet peeve of mine.

There is this a woman in my office. In addition to being a colleague, she was my boss for a while. While a very nice human, she drove me bonkers because she was unable to do anything for herself. She constantly threw herself on the goodwill of those around her and managed to get by quite well.

In addition to getting upset when I allow others to take advantage of me, I absolutely despise that helplessness when others refuse to do for themselves. I have no patience with it. I am far more willing to assist those who are trying to do for themselves.

Several weeks ago this same woman came to me and told me she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While not a medical health care profession, all my research seemed to indicate that kind of diagnosis was pretty much a death sentence with ninety percent of those diagnosed not making it the first year.

She told me her doctor recommended surgery, chemotherapy, then radiation. In that order.

This woman lives, as most of us do, paycheck to paycheck. She's sixty-two, has very little leave (i.e., vacation and sick time) left, is divorced, and has really no one in town.

Another friend and I rallied on this woman's behalf and set up plans to make sure she was well fed and cared for, as best we could, in addition to soliticiting leave donations from the office.

The woman said she did not believe the diagnosis and wanted a second and third opinion. However, she waited almost three weeks to even schedule that second opinion.

She ended up returning to her hometown in Kansas to see doctors there. She called me last week and told me the doctors there determined she has nothing other than calcium deposits in her pancreas.

What a huge relief. I would not wish pancreatic cancer on my worst enemy, whoever that person may be.

When I asked if the Kansas doctor had spoken with the oncologist in Texas, she responded: "He (Kansas) wanted to speak with him (Texas), but I could not remember his (Texas) name."


I think I would most certainly remember the man, as well as his name, who told me I had less than a year to live.

From the time she first told me of the cancer diagnosis and last week, different people in the office have come to me expressing their skepticism regarding any cancer. It appears, she has made a practice of going to one person, then another over the last couple of years crying wolf with medical health care concerns.

The jury is still out for me.

I have had carcinoma in situ of the cervix diagnosed before and it threw me for a loop. In fact, I had just about convinced myself I was going to die and never see either of my children grow up. I had the biopsy, conization, and laser to remove, hopefully, all of the malignant cells. I did the pap smears every ninety days and know what it feels like to have that hanging over my head.

Even now, I am ever cognizant that since I have had it once, I am at greater likelihood for it to return and those pap smears are only as accurate as the sample taken and it is entirely possible for those swabs to miss a spot.

To me, cancer is scary stuff. I watched my father die by inches for the more than two years it took to take him.

With my father and my uncle there is now a family history of it before me.

I would hate to think someone I know and work with is capable of yanking all of our chains that way; however, it is certainly beginning to look that way.

Posted by Christina at June 7, 2006 09:39 AM


oh dear. I, too, do not like being taken advantage of. For some, it is hardwired into their character to do such a thing. I hope it isn't cancer, but I also hope she didn't purposefully try to take advantage of you!

Posted by: oddybobo at June 7, 2006 11:20 AM

We have had a few school teachers in our area that did that to the community. Newpapers, TV, fund drives and thousands of dollars in donations to help the teacher and have them disappear and do it again in another state.

Awful stuff.

Take Care

Posted by: Michael at June 7, 2006 12:50 PM

Anyone who somehow never manages to master basic skills in life (or on the job) is at heart a con artist. Such folks have a psychological need to use/control others. And they've somehow learned that the best way to do this is by appealing to the sympathy of others.

To determine if you're dealing with such an antisocial individual, just ask yourself, "Have I ever known this person to ever be of genuine help to anyone else?" If the answer is no, then (since all of us have some capacity to share the burdens of others) the only explanation for why she's of no help to anyone is that the only person she truly cares about is herself.

Seems to me, her good news that she doesn't actually have pancreatic cancer is not surprising -- she had to find a way to explain away her survival. You threw her a curve by asking if her doctor in Kansas had consulted her Texas oncologist; she hadn't anticipated that question. So came up with a very lame lie.

Steer clear of this nut.

Posted by: Bob at June 7, 2006 01:12 PM

Oh now, if she *is* lying (which sounds more likely than not) that would totally piss me off.

As a fellow cancer survivor, [and aren't we all survivors in one way or another??] I too know the fear of an iffy diagnosis. Once bitten and twice shy am I, and I *know* my odds are higher having already had the disease.

For her to manipulate people in that way is just beyond awful. Shame on her.

Posted by: Richmond at June 7, 2006 02:36 PM

i know someone kinda like that, who won't do anything for herself, and makes everyone else's lives miserable [making sure the attention revolves around her]. i've not called her 'Aunt' for 15 years [mostly because we all just address her by her name], but aunt she is. i might write a post on it..

Posted by: amelie at June 7, 2006 02:45 PM

Oy. I've seen a number of people do things like that on the internet. They garner a whole bunch up sympathy and support, string everybody along, get people to set up relief funds for them......then you find out they're a fraud.

There was one guy that played me for a while. He claimed to be a teenager with type 1 diabetes. Of course, that hit home with me because Alan, my Love, is type 1 diabetic. As I got to know this guy on line, we would trade information on diabetes, medications and treatments, etc. He was *supposedly* having many complications so I wanted to help as much as I could, and since Alan has been diabetic since age 10, I thought we might be able to offer advice and help.

Well, Alan was the first to figure out that this guy was a fraud because of his own "real" life experience with diabetes. A lot of the stuff this guy was saying just didn't gel.

Still, I was willing to give the guy a chance. He was supposedly a teenager, so I figured he might just be immature, etc.

But then a fellow blogger who is a nurse started getting suspicious of what he was saying, and little by little his story unraveled and he finally found out to be a fake.

Many people got sucked into that one....sending him gifts and money.

Now when I hear sympathy stories on the internet, pleas for support, etc....I only give if I am damned sure that person is real and true. It's sad that some people take advantage, which leaves probably many people who are truely in need without help because we are forced to become skeptics.

Good luck with your colleague. I hope somehow everything works out for the best...and that you haven't been scammed.

Posted by: DogsDontPurr at June 7, 2006 05:01 PM

The story has to be bogus, but exactly how and why is unclear.

a) To make the diagnosis, she would have had to have a biopsy (probably a CT guided needle biopsy, or an endoscopic biopsy) - not likely to be a mistake in the results of that.

b) If it were localized, then surgery would have been the primary treatment, with or without chemo/rt before during or after surgery; However few tumors are discovered at this stage. If it was advanced past the curable stage, then no surgery would have been recommended, with palliative treatments or investigational treatments options
c) She may have had a mass discovered on CT or ultrasound, and told that either more testing (a biopsy) might be necessary, or told that is was a calcified cyst (often due to old bouts of pancreatitis from a variety of causes including alcohol abuse) and that it wasn't cancer, but she decided she liked the effect of the Ca diagnosis and used it.

d) Or maybe none of the above and she simply made up the story. With her past history of lying, c or d are possible.

Is she coming back? (I hope not, for I suspect some sort of feisty reception might greet her...)

Posted by: epador at June 7, 2006 09:32 PM

Admit it, the woman can have everyone 'do' for her allher life without some great trauma to impress upon them.

It's just a sad fact of life, some people are like this. She is to be ignored and pitied that the only interest she can garner in her life is if it is ending.

Posted by: silk at June 8, 2006 02:59 AM

I hate to say it, but I think she played you.

I can't stand people like this because they make people less inclined to help when real people have real problems.

If it is discovered that she has been...let's just say less than honest, I would recommend a very strong dose of life lesson.

Call her bluff.

You can't let people do this to you.

Or, you might politely mention the concept of the karmic boomerang.

I sincerely hope that she was not conning you, but from your description and the fact that she couldn't remember the doctor's name, I'm afraid she was.

If somebody handed me that kind of information, I wouldn't forget what I was wearing or the color of the walls in his office. I damn well wouldn't be so ignorant as to not give Dr. #2 the contact information for Dr. #1!

Posted by: Phoenix at June 8, 2006 10:24 AM

For me? I never, EVER, use excuses like that. Bad Karma.

She is to be pitied. Why else would someone come up with a story like that -- if only for some attention? *sigh*

Posted by: Margi at June 8, 2006 10:31 AM

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