Catfished: My Emily Wilson Story

Who would have thought it… Me– A happily married woman and a loving caregiver to my dad (stage 3B stomach cancer) got CATFISHED!! Well, I did… I was dubbed… I was fooled… I was hoaxed…

For those of who watch the show: Catfish on MTV, know that the concept came from Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman and Nev Schulman. These boys use the term “catfish” to describe a person who portrays a different person (someone other than self) online. So, essentially, a catfish is someone pretending to be someone they are not (usually someone who doesn’t even exist) on the internet. On the show it’s very often a romantic relationship that gets outed. Online boy falls in love with online girl… but then online girl turns out to be very fat and ugly girl pretending to be a “hot” girl… seriously, the show is a very entertaining mess.

I have always thought that I was a safe distance away from being “catfished”. Yesterday, I learned that those darn catfishes come in all sorts of forms… some even pretend to have cancer.

I first met Emily Wilson on my blog back in March 2014. (Not this blog, but the blog I have regarding my dad’s cancer, treatment, and updates.) She started following me so I in turn started following her at SeeGirlLive. I found her interesting because she was only 22 years old and she had two cancers going on at the same time. But as my dad’s cancer treatment got severe, and I thought my dad could actually not survive it, I stopped writing. For five months, I took care of my dad during the day, researched blogs at night, and then cried myself to sleep. By September 2014, it got better and I found myself being able to write about my dad’s progress.  Emily liked some of my stuff; I liked some of her stuff…and by November 2014, I was fully ready to open my heart to others battling cancer. But before I fully invested into her story; her life… I did what I had to do… I researched her. Was there an Emily Wilson? And the answer was yes. She was on every cancer forum… Cancer Compass, Cancer in Common, Blog for a Cure, Cancer Sucks, Inspire, I Had Cancer… She had letters written to her from the CFO of Livestrong and she had support from celebrities. She is even quoted on a Hereditary Colon website where she talks about her sister and brother having and not having the gene. I checked out all her social media websites too… and saw a bunch of pictures. Granted, in most of her pictures she looked very healthy… but after watching my dad get very self conscious, I knew that the chemo she was on most likely made her hair fall out and that she was probably ridiculously skinny. Excuses… I know. But with all this information and such a strong online presence, how could she not exist?

On the day where she made her decision to not continue treatment, and got moved to a hospice… I finally reached out to her. We communicated privately over social media… but since I knew my avatar was my dad, I moved our conversation over to email. I learned a lot during her fake time in hospice. I learned about her dreams, and fears, and even her pet peeves. She asked me questions. I made sure to always thank her for sharing her story… because I knew how hard it can be to share something so private and intimate especially when you think you are “losing”. I prayed for her. I cried for her. I even shared her story with my dad. We felt guilt. I told my husband about her. He almost flew to Florida to say goodbye. When she got too sick to write, her “sister” took over and started to write for her.  I lost a lot of tears. I kept replaying my last words to her. Did I hurt her? What do you say to a dying person? Then Emily Wilson almost died on Christmas day… but she hung on. Barely… And suddenly, just like that…. Emily Wilson was exposed as a FAKE.

For a moment I was embarrassed… Like oh my goodness… crap… I want to hide under a rock… but then I found myself surprisingly relieved. Emily Wilson is NOT going to die… She doesn’t even exist. Emily and her sister are just characters made up in someone’s mind. Yeah, I’m hurt… I wasted a lot of time on her… But when I opened my heart to others in November, I let a lot of people in. And some of those people, really did die, and it weighs me. And I’m very sad that cancer is just disgustingly ugly. So, in a strange and twisted way, I’m glad that there is no Emily Wilson because that’s way way way better than an Emily Wilson who tried to SeeGirlLive… but died from cancer. I’m glad that this “catfish” was caught before she killed her off in such a cruel way… and now there is room in my heart for another person who truly deserves to be there.

And lastly, to close this chapter, I wrote this catfish a final email to let her know that I was glad she’s alive and well (rather than really Emily Wilson and dying). I have yet not received any response… but I’ll keep you posted. I am thankful that Emily introduced me to the story of Nicolas Isley (I’ll write about him next year… but here is a small taste)… so I’m assuming there was a good reason why I got fooled and made a real connection with a person who doesn’t exist. She never asked for money or gifts from me… she didn’t have one of those cheesy websites asking for “donations.” I don’t know her motives… but I do think See Girl Live Out a Hoax is a great title for her next blog.

Goodbye Emily!


cat fishCatfish:

“They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They’d keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank God for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn’t have somebody nipping at our fin.” —from Catfish

Who is the Real Emily Wilson? Apparently, her name is Jamilla Bigby. She is studying to be a doctor at Morehouse School of Medicine in Georgia. Personally, I would not be able to trust her as a doctor. This year long prank was cruel and inhumane. Her mother, Karen Bigby, is a family doctor in Florida… I’m guessing that’s why she seems to know a lot about cancer and why everything was so believable!!

How was she exposed?  Taryn Wright from Warrior Eli Hoax exposed her. Fantastic Job!!! She seriously saved me so much tears! I thank her a million for letting me know about this catfish.

You can read the real story right here on wordpress and here on tumblr.

3 thoughts on “Catfished: My Emily Wilson Story

  1. She got me too. Same story, prayers tears etc., Chatted with me til the bitter end, probably laughing at me. Daggum. What is wrong with people.

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