Monday, May 14, 2012

To the creators of "Warrior Eli", a few things you should know

The story of Warrior Eli went viral on Mother's Day--telling of a mother of 11 who died in an accident just before giving of her children is a relapsed cancer survivor named Eli.  By today, this story was revealed to be a hoax. 

To the creators of “Warrior Eli”, whoever you may be,

I don’t know why you thought it would be fun to create an elaborate myth about a child with cancer. Maybe you were inspired by Lifetime movies or Grey’s Anatomy or some sort of dramatic fiction that makes childhood cancer seem c’est tragique. Maybe you thought it would be funny to see if you could get your sad story about a young mother of 11 dying just before giving birth, while one of her young brood battled leukemia, to go viral. You don’t seem to have wanted money, since you asked for donations to go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a legit charity for kids who really do have cancer.

Honestly, I don’t really give a crap about why you did this.

And honestly, this isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this. I, too, have believed a liar in the past, sent gifts to a phantom child. I learned from that experience.

Now it’s your turn to learn a few things.

One, most people are good, deep down. Parents of children struck with catastrophic illness can be some of the kindest, most generous people on the planet. This isn’t to say we need to start handing out halos –people are people, no matter how smote-- but folks who have walked through fire are the first ones to hand out buckets of water, if you know what I mean. When they hear that someone is facing the same tragedy they have faced, the FIRST instinct is to help, to assure the new family that they are not alone. They hurt FOR each other, because they so intimately know that pain that this kind of diagnosis brings. Even though it hurts to engage with other families sometimes BECAUSE of this shared pain, these parents do that.

So when you lied over time about “Warrior Eli”, you hurt real warrior parents. You should know that. You took the grace that these parents have to give, and you made a mockery of it.

Shame on you.

Second, your lies, your desperate appeals for the sympathy and concern of strangers hurt the real warriors, the children truly battling for their lives.

Last week we spent about 5 hours in the Alex Scott Day Hospital, named for Alex of Lemonade Stand fame, named for the money raised by the lemonade stands that funded this amazing facility. I sat there, watching poison drip into my child, and I had trouble believing the evidence of my senses. Yes, we were in the hospital. Yes, G was getting her port accessed (which means a ¾” needle stuck in her chest, not sure your “research” for “Warrior Eli” covered that). Yes, nurses double double checked G’s ID to make sure she was getting the RIGHT poisonous cocktail. Yes, my warrior smiled and gave me a thumbs up even though she was so scared, so scared about what the chemo would do.

The entire afternoon was surreal. A friend came to visit us, and I am not going to lie, I am always happy now, after knowing about people like you, people who lie about their children being sick, I am happy when someone sees us in clinic, sees my child like this. If I can’t even believe this is happening to us, why should other people?

You hurt the credibility of real families battling. You made us doubt when we should be feeling compassion.

Shame on you.

As a side note about Alex’s Lemonade Stand, who you dragged along , maybe to give your lies more credibility?: Alex was a true warrior. Because of her, kids like MY kid have a better place to receive treatment. When Alex was battling, the day hospital was a large room with a ring of chairs around a nurses’ station. Now children can have some privacy, if they want. They have working tvs and video games, there’s a playroom and a little kitchen where they can get a healthy bagged lunch while they are getting treated. Alex didn’t live to see this. You insult Alex and her work and the legacy her family has worked so hard to foster.


Finally, you need to know that childhood cancer isn’t a means to getting noticed, or a way to look noble and cool. It’s a battle for life. It’s not pretend, or a play, or something you can treat lightly. You want to look noble and cool? Go HELP kids with cancer. Use your creative energy for something GOOD. You used pain and suffering of children for your own satisfaction.
Shame on you.

I don’t think there will really be any tangible repercussions for what you did. You simply lied, and people believed you. You didn’t get money, you didn’t ask for anything, from what I can tell. You simply lied, and stole the emotional resources and compassion of people that could be better used for REAL catastrophe. I do hope that maybe some corner of your mind still possesses a shred of decency, and that maybe, just maybe you’ll take some time and volunteer for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, or in a children’s oncology ward, or with Team In Training in honor of “Warrior Eli’s” leukemia. Maybe you can try and learn just a little bit about the deep truths discovered when you spend time with a child fighting for their life.

If not, then shame on you.


  1. They lied about being a police officer (RCMP), and that could be considered a criminal offence. I'm also a mom to a cancer survivor who is a junior rider with a Cops for Cancer team here in Canada. The real law enforcement folks are very caring and generous and work really hard to fund raise and support childhood cancer ... not sure how much they'd like their occupation dragged into this deceit.

  2. Thanks, Tea, I didn't know that. And thanks to the Cops for Cancer teams. This business just gets worse and worse. I am very glad I was late to the story this time, the one time I got totally duped was so painful for all concerned.
    And geez, how can you lie about being a Mountie? Dang.
    (we grew up here with much singing of Nelson Eddie Mounties songs from the 30s and 40s. Mountie = honor and courage ).
    thank you...

  3. I'm saddened (and sickened) that somebody used my photos and the photos of e to spout all kinds of erroneous stories over the weekend (as part of the "Warrior Eli" scam).

    The person claimed that "Dana" had been killed in a car crash (and they used the picture of me with e rolling his eyes up with that post). What is WRONG with people?

    THAT's ME, but I'm not dead... e's not dead. He's healthy and happy.

    But, they did more than "just" lie! When people use the stories of REAL kids as part of scams, it makes it harder to raise money for those REAL kids who need it.

    I've never been afraid to tell my son's story. I've told anyone who would listen, and even those who turn away. I'm not ashamed of my little boy; I'm so proud of what a strong little man he's become. But, now, I understand why there are those who keep the stories (and the images) of their kids private and let their stories remain unsaid. When someone can tear at the very core of what he has gone through--turn it into something so wrong... play on emotions... How many people cried when they heard/read the story of the kid with cancer and the mother who was killed in a car crash right before mother's day?

    Well, I'm upset... but it also makes me all the more determined.

    You're right, it's not play. I look at the pictures that they stole, and I remember the moments that those images represent. My little boy almost died. The cancer kept coming back. He went through the most horrible series of episodes. I wouldn't wish that (any of it) on my worst enemy. And, yet, somebody tried to claim that the pain could EVER be theirs.

    Ironically, while this person was spreading all their lies, my son and I were hanging out with the most amazing group of people, who were all raising money to let another kid have a wish (Make-a-Wish). It's my wish that this horrible episode will be turned around to something positive.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story here. I really appreciate it. And I am sorry, so sorry that your pictures were stolen. And at the same time, I am ridiculously glad that you are alive and well...and so is your sweet boy.

    You are right, and I wish I could have said it in a way that conveyed how mad I am about this...they didn't JUST lie. There is no such thing as "just" lie. And I am again so sorry that you got dragged into this. I hope there IS some way that justice can be found here, or at the very least (which I hope I did convey), something positive for our real warrior children.

    I too hope that something positive can come out of this. Thank you so much, and I hope you had a blast at the MAW event.

  5. I am a 38 year old breast cancer patient. And while I know my journey is very different from a child's, it has been hard none the less. I blogged throughout my 16 rounds of conventional chemo and was lied to 4 times that I know of by young women - two of which were using it for financial gain. This is a nastiness I can't comprehend. When I first began blogging, I had no idea people did this. I can't get my head around it. It defies reason.

  6. holy crap I totally missed this. there is a special circle in hell... Dante just didn't know anyone would ever be that much of a, well we'll just say crapweasel and leave it at that.

  7. You know when I saw on mothers day that the mom had died things started clicking in my mind that some thing was not right. I too have a child who has fought cancer. Now she fights the side effect of the treatment that was used to save her life. I HATE CANCER AS MUCH AS I HATE SCAMERS!!!!!!! thank you for this post.