Former Writer For Grey’s Anatomy Admits Faking The Cancer Diagnosis

A former “Grey’s Anatomy” co-producer and writer admitted in a story published Wednesday that she spent years faking a cancer diagnosis in order to create a narrative on the long-running hit program and fool her colleagues until her wife allegedly outed her to producers.

Elisabeth Finch, a former writer for HBO’s “True Blood,” told the Hollywood-focused newsletter The Ankler that she had “never had any sort of cancer.”

“I told a falsehood when I was 34, and it was the biggest mistake of my life,” Finch, now 44, said. “It only grew bigger and bigger and bigger inside me, burying itself further and deeper.”

Finch, who was credited with writing 13 “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes and producing 172 episodes, revealed to her coworkers on the show that she had been diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, a decade ago, which she also wrote about for publications such as Elle Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter.

Finch said her own diagnosis inspired a narrative for “Grey’s Anatomy” character Catherine Fox, played by Debbie Allen, in a 2019 piece she wrote for the Hollywood Reporter, which was still up Thursday afternoon.

Finch’s admission comes nine months after Disney, ABC’s parent company, and Shondaland, the company founded by Shonda Rhimes in 2005 to produce “Grey’s Anatomy,” placed the writer on leave while they investigated allegations that she was faking her diagnosis after Finch’s wife allegedly tipped them off soon after she discovered Finch’s lie, according to the Ankler. The pair is currently divorced.

Finch’s wife did not react immediately to a request for comment on Thursday. ABC and Shondaland representatives did not reply to requests for comment.

According to the newsletter, Finch left the show before an investigation could be launched and checked herself into an in-patient treatment facility in Arizona.

“What I did was incorrect. This is not acceptable. F——d up. “Every syllable,” Finch said.

According to a former “Grey’s Anatomy” coworker, Finch appeared to have lost her hair and “often took breaks to vomit” and “only ate saltines for long periods of time.”

According to the newsletter, Finch also “taped a dummy catheter to her arm and cut her hair to feign that she was having chemotherapy.”

Finch told the newsletter that “one of the things that makes it so hard is that they did rally around a false narrative that I offered” in regard to those actions and how they affected others on set.

She also told The Ankler that she began lying about her cancer diagnosis after having knee replacement surgery at the age of 34 and that the people in her life were “very supportive.”

She said that lying was “my coping and my method to feel protected, seen, and heard” after her surgery support ended; she also claimed that physical and emotional abuse from her brother throughout her life contributed to her falsehoods.

Finch’s brother could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

According to The Ankler, Finch also falsely claimed her brother committed himself in 2019 — despite the fact that he is still alive and working as a doctor in Florida — and that she lost a close friend in the 2018 antisemitic terrorist attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

Dr. Marc D. Feldman, a psychiatry professor and adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and the author of “Dying to be Ill: True Stories of Medical Deception,” told The Ankler that Finch’s case sounds like a “classic case of factitious disorder,” which the Mayo Clinic defines as “a serious mental disorder in which someone deceives others by appearing sick, purposefully getting sick, or by self-injury”

Finch did not reply to mails seeking comment on Thursday.

“Grey’s Anatomy,” which premiered in 2005 and is now in its 19th season, won a Golden Globe Award for Best Drama Television Series in 2007. The show stars Ellen Pompeo, who is also a producer and just announced her retirement from the show.

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