When Ashley Kirilow was arrested last summer on charges of faking cancer in order to collect donations and pocket the money, the reaction was resounding: how could a person lie to her community and even her family about something as serious as faking cancer?
Well, it turns out Ms. Kirilow wasn't alone in her alleged actions. This past weekend, police arrested another Ontario woman accused of faking the disease for personal gain.
This time, Jessica Ann Leeder, a 21-year-old resident of Timmins, Ont., is facing a fraud charge over what police say is a scheme to collect personal donations by faking cancer.
The question most people naturally ask when they hear about these cases is: why would someone fake cancer?
A quick search on Google reveals those types of cases are actually more common than you might think. In September, a U.S. man announced he was divorcing his wife after discovering she faked having leukemia in order to get strangers to pay for their wedding. This past summer, a Tennessee woman was sentenced to 42 months in jail for faking breast cancer, a ruse she kept up for five years to get donations and other free services from her community.
The online reaction to news of a second Canadian woman allegedly faking cancer has been swift, with many users on Twitter and Facebook expressing outrage and shock at their actions.
"Enough with people faking cancer. Fake a sick day off work, a leg cramp on the field, or a homemade pie .....But not cancer," wrote one user on Twitter.
But at the same time, a surprisingly strong element of sympathy has arisen for the accused cancer fraudsters. Newspaper columns, letters and some online commenters are urging Canadians to feel sorry for these women and the problems they have that led them to create these elaborate hoaxes. One mother of a girl who died of cancer even wrote a Hamilton, Ont. newspaper, asking for the public to see Ms. Kirilow for what she is: a young woman who made a mistake.