We’re looking, Ashley. We’re looking.

Ashley Kirilow is getting more attention than she could possibly have imagined.

Just days ago, news broke that 23-year-old from Toronto had faked cancer and fraudulently accepted as much as $20,000 in donations (Ashley claims it was less than $5000). The story has grabbed headlines in Canada and internationally, and brought over 3000 readers to this blog. Media sites and the blogosphere are abuzz with exclamations of horror, revulsion, pity, and disgust. There are a lot of threats.

Debate rages about Ashley’s motivation. It’s hard for most of us to understand how a young Canadian woman could commit such personal indignities, and betray the trust of so many good people. To those who have lost relatives and friends to cancer (and that’s just about all of us), it feels personal. There seem to be three camps: she’s pure evil; she’s mentally ill; she did it for the money.

Ashley hasn’t been shy about offering an explanation. She’s not only talked with friends and family, she’s also written emails to QMI agency, owner of the Sun Media group and given personal interview to the Toronto Star. At the root of it, according to Ashley, is an unhappy childhood.

Part of her cancer story was that her parents were drug addicts, now dead, who had abandoned her. In reality, Ashley has two parents, both alive, and a step mom. When her dad discovered the cancer story was a fraud, she told him, and the Toronto Star that she was trying to punish her family for her unhappy childhood:

“I took it as an opportunity to make my family feel bad for how I was treated,” she said.

Later, she told the Toronto Sun the exact opposite, that she was looking for affection:

“I did lie about having cancer. Originally it was because I was alone and had no one who cared about me,” she wrote.

“I just wanted (my family) to change their crazy ways and love me and be a normal family.”

ABC news reports yet another motivation:

The young woman… said she did it because she “was trying to be noticed.”

“I didn’t want to feel like I’m nothing anymore. It went wrong, it spread like crazy.”

Ashley  has also claimed to the Star that she is mentally ill:

Kirilow said she has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She showed a reporter two prescription pill bottles with her name printed on it: one was an antidepressant; the other an antipsychotic that is often used to treat bipolar disorder.

Ashley may have the eyes of the world, but she has lost the support of her family. Frances Kirilow, Ashley’s step-mother, posting here, says that it’s all part of Ashley’s desperate need for attention:

Her family loves her and cares about her. While her parents may have split up when she was young, her mom, dad, stepmom, grandparents and siblings have always been there for her. Ashley is the one who chose to leave home because the rules didn’t suit her….  Ashley is trying to play the victim card again to diminish the severity of her actions. By claiming a “bad childhood” she hopes it will garner her some sympathy.

Mike Kirilow, Ashley’s father, has refused to show up to support her today when she appears in court on three charges of fraud. He told the CBC:

“I want no part of this. She told me to stay out of her life. I gave her every opportunity to do the right thing.”

Interestingly, Mike Kirilow’s refusal to be involved has not extended to the media. In addition to talking to multiple Canadian news organizations, yesterday he appeared in an “exclusive interview” on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Ashley may be mentally ill. She may have done it for the money. She may just be a really bad person. But there’s one clear underlying theme to this whole mess: Look at me. Look at me! LOOK AT ME.  LOOK AT ME!!

CBC Analysis: Faking an illness

3 responses to “We’re looking, Ashley. We’re looking.

  1. If she is mentally ill, she gives mental illness a bad name.

  2. People are products of their environment, and it doesn’t take much to see where Ashley’s problem gets its start. We’ve built a society that has practically institutionalized avoidance of responsibility.

    And frankly, for all that I have no sympathy for her, I have even less sympathy for the morons who encouraged her. The only thing worse then our collective inability to accept responsibility for our own actions is our willingness to engage in pointless “gestures” in order to feel better about ourselves. “oh yes, I gave $20 to a poor, disadvantaged cancer patient, where’s my Nobel prize?”. There are literally hundreds of legitimate cancer charities that we can give money to, but no, they had to give to “Ashley’s” charity, because they “knew” Ashley, which made their trivial donation seem more significant. Which is kinda ironic, when you think about it.

  3. I am 26 years old. I emotionally went through 7 losses in the last two years. All in which were cancer patients. I have also been a child of a broken home. I personally can understand the need of wanting attention. How ever I couldn’t imagine doing what she did for attention. Reading the article made me cry. Reading that some one could turn cancer in to a cry for help.
    This story has hit so many people on a personal note. I hope Ashley gets the help she needs and returns all the money to the cancer society were it belongs. Again this is to be one of the most pathetic doings I have seen…..

    To all the cancer victims and heros,
    god bless you. I will not stop donating and volunteering. I still have hope and nothing will change.

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