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by Abigail Van Buren

Friend Supporting Cancer Patient Learns Diagnosis Was a Lie

DEAR ABBY: I have just learned that a woman I have been very close with for the last 2 1/2 years has been faking breast cancer. She's a single mother. I decided to be there for her when she first told me about it, and have helped her extensively to pay for her chemo, radiation and other treatments. It turns out the payments were going toward luxuries and cosmetic surgery I discovered only later. The biggest violation for me in all of this was the emotional manipulation.

I have many questions now about how to proceed, but my question to you is: Can someone who is capable of doing this ever truly change? She has expressed some remorse and said that she wants help, but I'm not sure how to proceed. Most people have told me to cut my losses and just walk away or take legal action. There are so many questions involved in this betrayal, but I need to know if there is any hope for someone like this. -- CUTTING MY LOSSES

DEAR CUTTING: Not in my opinion. The woman has sociopathic tendencies -- she has no conscience, as she has amply demonstrated.

You should absolutely take legal action if you're interested in recouping your money. The first step would be to contact the police because the woman has committed fraud. The next step should be to call your lawyer. As to your hurt from her emotional manipulation, recognize that it's time to divorce yourself from your relationship with her.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Money | Health & Safety