Cancer story was hoax, woman says

2004-07-31T23:00:00Z Cancer story was hoax, woman saysThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 31, 2004 11:00 pm  • 

BILLINGS (AP) - A young woman who told people she had ovarian cancer and wanted to fulfill a dream of visiting Vietnam now says she lied about being sick.

The tale by Lanelle Christman, 26, led sympathizers to establish a bank account under the name Lanelle's Wish Inc., to receive money for a trip to Vietnam. She had said she wanted to visit the country's north coast or have her ashes scattered there.

Christman told The Billings Gazette on Friday that she spread the cancer lie to mask psychological problems.

"It was easier for me to say I had cancer than to deal with a 15-year history of anorexia and bulimia," she said.

When the bank account was established, Christman was the subject of a June news article reporting that she had been diagnosed with cancer five years earlier and underwent rigorous treatment, but the cancer spread.

The article led members of Christman's family, who knew she did not have cancer, to seek mental help for her.

Christman spent several days in a psychiatric unit. She said she subsequently received counseling and takes medication to control mood swings.

She regrets misleading people, she said.

"I had no malice," Christman said. "I only wanted people to love me."

The account has been closed and the $300 or so collected will be returned to donors, said Mike Ward, Christman's friend who established the fund.

Christman worked at the Western Heritage Center until resigning in June. She was named outstanding senior history student at Montana State University-Billings, from which she graduated last year.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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