Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Annie - An Explanation

I've spent a good part of the past few months deflecting questions, feigning ignorance & then blatantly ignoring people who have asked me questions about the whereabouts of 'Annie' from  the blog, 'Curly hair & false eyelashes'.
I can only say that I'm really sorry about this, I'm not an ignorant person by any stretch of the imagination & I feel quite guilty that I haven't responded to many of you......I just didn't quite know what to say. And I also didn't want to sensationalise things any more than they had been already.
I'm not making myself clear but I'm actually struggling here to put this into words.
Right, okay.....here goes.....I really don't know if I'm doing the right thing here or not but something has got to be said.......*takes in a deep breath*

To those of you that have only started reading my blog recently (or any kind of blog come to that), you may have gathered that there is a whole blogging community out there in cyberspace, obviously the main one that I'm involved with is the Breast Cancer bloggers community. We tend to 'meet' through other peoples blogs & we're there to support each other, to share our news, to discuss treatments, to raise awareness, to campaign for a cure etc (you get the picture.) I'd go so far to say that many of us, have made new & lasting friendships through our blogs.
When those of us with a primary cancer come across a blog written by someone with secondary cancer(s) or when one of us develops secondaries, well, we can understand what they're going through to a certain point but, we could never fully know what it feels like. Reading that person's blog helps us to understand a bit more. And we want to support them.

Which is exactly how I felt when I came across 'Annie's blog' last year. There's also such a thing as 'Survivor's guilt'; I felt a bit of that too.
I actually wrote a post for her blog (Curly hair & false eyelashes) in August 2011, which explains just how much she touched my life when I came across her writings; you can read it here. (Although you will need to click on the images & then zoom in to read it until I figure out another way to get it on here cos I only printed off a copy from my blog & I've scanned it onto my laptop today; I didn't think on to copy & paste it onto a word document.)
And she wrote one for me prior to that, which I featured on this blog on 11th July 2011; you can read her post here.

Anyway, when I moved back to Liverpool in September 2011, I was happy that I would be closer to 'Annie' (she lived 20 minutes away from where I was relocating to), so that I could visit her, maybe take her out somewhere.....I dunno, just 'be there' for her. We'd chatted about it quite a lot through email, Facebook & Twitter. I knew that she was only expecting to live another 6 months.....that's what her Doctors had told her....
When I couldn't reach her by phone, text, email or through Twitter & Facebook, I started to fear the worst.
So, feeling that I'd exhausted every other avenue, I decided to send an inbox message to one of her friends on Facebook, someone who I knew was pretty close to her.
He inboxed me back a few hours later, providing his phone number & asking me to call him.

Oh Jeez.....what can I say without transcribing the whole conversation onto here? We've spoken so many times since then.....I'm exhausted thinking about it.
Without going into detail, I'll cut to the chase.

Basically.....Annie's blog was a complete fabrication.  
She made up the whole story about having breast cancer; she'd never had breast cancer - let alone secondary breast cancer.
There I've said it. I hate to be the bearer of this news but people have never stopped asking about her. It's not that I'm fed up of them asking, far from it, their concern is overwhelming & so touching, but I can't lie to or avoid people any longer. We all knew that 'Annie' was a pseudonym (I know her real name but I won't reveal that here) & anyone who was reading either of our blogs at the time also knew that we'd met. So I feel a bit of a responsibility to put people in the picture about this. I feel responsible for driving a lot more traffic to her blog by introducing her to a lot of my readers. I also feel like a bit of an idiot to be honest because I was taken in by it. And here's me, the streetwise Scouser thinking that not many people can put one past me!
As the title of my blog says - 'It Could Only Happen To [me]'. But this isn't about me. 

Hearing this news shocked me to the core. I couldn't believe it & kept asking 'Are you sure? How? Why?'......Apparently suspicions were aroused at her work place, she was suspended & then resigned from her job a short time later.
I can't really tell you much more than this cos that is basically all that I really know. I've known for a few months now & I think that I've been trying to come to terms with it in my own head before I felt like I should tell other people.
Obviously she wasn't/isn't very well (click here to see what a possible explanation for it could be).....but I suppose that's not for me to judge; I did try to contact her after I'd found out to see if she wanted to talk about it but she never ever replied.

Anyway, I can imagine that many of you will have further questions about this so if anyone wants to contact me then please be assured that I won't ignore you this time however, I haven't really got much else to say on the subject, I don't know why she did it, I don't know where she is, I don't have any contact with her whatsoever.
I mean, thinking back, she inspired so many of us, she really, definitely did. 
I know when I was feeling down & depressed I'd read her blog, see how she was 'coping' & then I'd find more resolve to pick myself up & get on with my life.
I've gone through all of the emotions that you are probably feeling right now; disbelief, amazement, shock, anger, pity, amusement, incredulity.....the list is endless.
Please know, that I'm truly, truly sorry to be the one to break this news. So many people have contacted me in the past few months that I just felt that it was time to let people know what I know. I'm sorry if anyone thinks that this is inappropriate or insensitive but like I said, after driving so much traffic to 'Annie's blog', by promoting it & asking you all to support her, I feel like I added unnecessary fuel to the fire.
I suppose that's all I can say really. 
I mean, am I glad that she's not going to die of secondary breast cancer? Of course I am.
But at the same time.....it's all very bizarre. She is very much alive & kicking.
I'll leave it with you.
Love Chez. xx 


  1. Chez, big massive hug for you... Thank you for breaking the silence...

    That Annie was/is very ill there is no doubt, just not as we had (along with many others, inclduing some very well qualified people) believed. I just hope that by now she has found the help she needs.

    Never, ever, ever, blame yourself for any of this. As you rightly say, Annie was a gifted writer who inspired many, many people with her witty style and profound observations. Her piece in repsosne to the summer 2011 riots was truly amazing.

    I was fooled too... and I'm a decade older then you (or thereabouts).

    Now, go forward, let it go, no-one worth knowing thinks any the less of you.

  2. I am glad it's all out in the open. I have to say when I found out I took it quite badly. I had offered emotional support to Annie when at times I was struggling with my own diagnosis. I cannot begin to understand why a person would behave like this, there are professionals paid to do that. I just hope she is getting help.

    I agree with your last statement Chez, I'm glad she did not die to this horrible disease xx

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  4. Poor lass. What kind of issues can lead someone to such a course of action? I am so very glad that she hasn't (as I feared) died of this awful thing, but like everyone else I hope she finds the help she so clearly needs.

    She wrote very well. She certainly seemed to understand, and she connected immediately with many of the fears and feelings that I, and many others, have experienced. If the blog had been pitched as a fictionalised account which would inspire and assist many many women going through an awful experience, then it worked very well indeed. If it was an attention-seeking device which allowed someone to gain the love and support that they couldn't get any other way, then I think that person probably needs and deserves our sympathy. If it was a way to get a following which might lead to a book deal and make someone some money, then it was callous exploitation, but it wouldn't be the first time that has happened.

    Chez - you're a fine woman with a big heart. Never, never, never imagine that anyone would think less of someone who cared enough to support someone they believed was going through such an illness. That you did is a credit to you, not a failing.
    Thank you for sharing this news with us, and for your courage in doing so.

  5. Chez, thanks so much for posting this and thanks to Catriona for pointing me to it. I'm another who was completely fooled by what was a very skilful fabrication and I'm another decade older. I too feared the worst when the blog disappeared and am shocked to know the real reason why.

    If it's any consolation, I've experienced this situation before, not on a blog but on a small private breast cancer forum. There a new member also presented a very skilful fabrication about a secondary diagnosis and was offered a great deal of sympathy and emotional support.

    I do hope that 'Annie' gets the professional help she so obviously needs and that those who supported her aren't deterred from offering the same generous support to others who really need it.

  6. Thank you for all of your very understanding comments about this blog post, both with regards to my standing on this & also for your compassion for 'Annie'.
    I realise that there are going to be people that are very upset about this revelation but I really felt that it was time that I spoke out about what very little I know about all of this, especially since I know how it feels to be very worried about someone; when I couldn't get in touch with her I was pretty upset.
    I suppose the one good thing is that we are not going to lose someone else to secondary breast cancer.
    With love & hugs to all of you.
    Thank you.
    Chez. xx

  7. This is so sad,Chez - thank you for sharing what was terribly tough to share.

    I guess it is a reflection of the complicated and inter-connected online lives and relationships we develop. And how much trust we place on the basis of the information in front of us, often because we share so much of our own personal self online. Something like this knocks that trust.

    I hope you don't mind if I refer to your post in a blog I was already working on about the friendships we develop online.

    I too hope that Annie has the medical and emotional support she needs.

    You take care and it is great to hear your latest updates :)

    Big hugs
    Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko)

    1. Hi Phillipa, great to hear from you & thank you for your kind comments....please feel free to refer to this post in your blog, hope ur well, Love Chez. xx

  8. Hi Chez - I am not sure if the link reached you or not, some of my comments on blogspot disappear.

    Here is the post about trust:

    and a short follow up:

    I would be really keen to hear your thoughts, given your own experience :)
    P xox

    1. Hi Phillipa,
      I've been offline for a little while but will take a look at your posts as soon as I can.
      I'll be in touch soon, take care,
      Chez. xx