My boyfriend and I have a friend who is suffering from leukemia. She's had ALL since she was 4 and is now experiencing a 4th relapse. I know just enough about cancer to question some of what she's said. She said last week that she was admitted to the hospital & they found a tumor in her liver, which was cancerous. She said they got it all, was released the next day & was out drinking this weekend. Having had a friend who survived liver cancer & had many liver resections, I found this very hard to believe, although since she is receiving chemotherapy, I suppose it's possible that if the tumor was small & they removed it all during the biopsy, that could have been all there was to do at the time & perhaps incisions are smaller now than 10 years ago, so it is possible to be released within a day.
Now she is saying she is back in the hospital & that a spinal tap was done yesterday, they are doing a CAT scan today & they don't know what's wrong. She has a fever of 104 and her body is overheating. She texts us all the time and she frequently calls in the middle of panic attacks. I feel horrible questioning her, but even if what she's saying is 100% true, I still don't know how to help her, as, if she is sick, she seems to be receiving very poor care/advice from her doctors, or she seems reluctant to take the necessary steps to take care of herself. And that is making it very hard to provide her with support when she calls us crying at 8am convinced she is dying, but then goes out drinking with her friends that same night, and then checks back into the hospital the next day. I am noticing a trend where, if we don't respond to a text message or phone call right away, it seems like suddenly she is once again in the middle of a serious health trauma.
I know I sound like a horrible person and having never experienced a serious illness, I can only imagine the mental and emotional toll this is taking on her. I guess I'd just love to know what we can do to help her, while still setting boundaries and not feeling guilty every time I question if there's a bit of emotional manipulation going on.
Some of your friend's history is indeed strange. You have picked up on all of the inconsistencies. One of note, is that if she did have a liver tumor removed, even a small one, she is going to be very sore for several days after a liver biopsy (even those done through a 'scope). There is always some muscle, fascia, and other soft tissues to get through just to get into the peritoneal cavity. She may have been discharged the next day, but she would have some symptoms of a surgical procedure.
Fortunately, ALL now has a survivorship rate of over 90%. (However, these patients are at a higher risk of developing secondary tumors, than the regular population.) Your friend may have received a lot of attention when she was sick, and felt loved and cared for at that time. She may have developed abnormal bonding techniques and doesn't know how to make and keep friends in a normal way.
You should not feel guilty about questioning her actions. She has gone over a line (or at least is testing it). Try not to confront her, as she may try to hurt herself just to get attention. You may have to gently point out inconsistencies, in a nonthreatening way. Hopefully, she will take the hint. But, she may be so entrenched in the workings of her own world, that she may need professional help. But it is not up to you to be a psychiatrist.
The internet is a wonderful place to hide and make up stories. Her actions in the real world just don't jive with her statements on the web. She is being very manipulative. You have to look out for your's and your boyfriend's emotional health also.
Hope you and your friend find an answer for your mutual friend. Good luck.