The former Grey’s Anatomy writer is finally coming clean about the lies surrounding her medical history!
When Elisabeth Finch (pictured above, right) joined the writer’s room for the long-running medical drama in 2014, she frequently pulled inspiration from her own supposed medical history. She claimed to have been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma in 2012, completing rounds of chemotherapy for two years before being hired for Grey’s Anatomy. But that wasn’t all. During her treatment, she also said she lost a kidney, then a part of her tibia, and later was required to get an abortion due to her chemo.
Along with her health struggles, Elisabeth also told her co-workers her brother had died by suicide in 2019 and claimed to have lost a friend in the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Many of her life’s stories wound up being included in the show, and she opened up about her medical ordeal in publications like Elle, The Hollywood Reporter, and Shonda Rhimes’ website Shondaland. But eventually, Elisabeth was caught in a lie – well, more like several.
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As we previously reported, it came out in March of this year that Disney placed Elisabeth on administrative leave while the company investigated allegations from her ex-wife, Jennifer Beyer, that she’d been making up significant portions of her life. The screenwriter resigned from Grey’s before the investigation could begin. And now, she is coming forward to confess that a lot of what she’s said in the past was all made up!
Speaking with The Ankler in an interview published on Wednesday, Elisabeth admitted she “never had any form of cancer”:
“I told a lie when I was 34 years old and it was the biggest mistake of my life. It just got bigger and bigger and bigger and got buried deeper and deeper inside me. I’ve never had any form of cancer. I know it’s absolutely wrong what I did. I lied and there’s no excuse for it.”
As for why she did it? She claimed it was from the “trauma” of her brother, Eric, physically and emotionally abusing her when she was a child. Elisabeth alleged:
“It wasn’t just casual sibling rivalry stuff. There were two things going on: one, my brother was abusing me, and two, my parents weren’t listening. A lot of scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists will tell you that the negation of [abuse], or not hearing it, can sometimes be an even bigger trauma than the original trauma itself.”
When asked if there were medical records of the abuse, Elisabeth replied:
“Eric was very.… Even saying his name is hard. He was very good at doing things that were terrorizing and physical, but not enough to leave marks. That’s one of the threads that I went through — where’s my evidence? Prove it. Where’s the document? Where’s the scar? Where’s the whatever? As I grew into adulthood I didn’t have [evidence].”
Furthermore, Elisabeth explained the “context” of the lie was that she dealt with “years of medical purgatory” after injuring her knee while hiking in Temescal Canyon in 2007 which required several surgeries to repair it. When the writer received support from her colleagues, she became addicted to the constant attention:
“What ended up happening is that everyone was so amazing and so wonderful leading up to all the surgeries. They were so supportive and then I got my knee replacement. It was one hell of a recovery period and then it was dead quiet because everyone naturally was like “Yay! You’re healed!”
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That’s when her lies about her cancer diagnosis, removal of a part of her leg, and more began:
“But it was dead quiet. And I had no support and went back to my old maladaptive coping mechanism – I lied and made something up because I needed support and attention and that’s the way I went after it. That’s where that lie started – in that silence.”
Elisabeth soon started telling people doctors had found a tumor on her spine in 2012. She noted to the publication that she chose chondrosarcoma because it was “a particular form of cancer that was difficult to treat.” And she went to great lengths to keep up with her lie about having cancer! Elisabeth even got one of her friends to drop her off at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and pretend to receive treatment inside – only to instead wander around the hallways while her friends waited outside.
Uhh… those friends deserve a fancy dinner!
Colleagues from Grey’s told the outlet that Elisabeth “always had some tragedy going on,” adding:
“Things that don’t happen to other people happen to her all the time.”
They claimed she would show up to work with a shaved head and eat nothing but some saltines because she said it was the only food she could “keep down” at the time. Eventually, everything caught up to her when Jennifer found out she lied about her health struggles:
“There’s a momentum that grows. Why do alcoholics keep drinking? Why do addicts keep using more and more? I think it was a lie that got completely out of control and I got out of control with it. I wasn’t some calculating puppet master trying to buck the system. I think it was something that got really freaking out of control and that’s what happens when you’re dealing with a maladaptive way of dealing with things. It just gets bigger.”
Jennifer confronted Elisabeth about the lies and demanded she tell her family and friends the truth. But while she initially told some of her loved ones, she drew the line at coming clean to her bosses at Grey’s Anatomy. So Jennifer took matters into her own hands and reached out to Shonda, Shondaland, and Disney about how Elizabeth was fabricating her stories – the same ones some of the plot lines, including for the character Dr. Catherine Avery, were based on. Elizabeth said she felt she didn’t need to confess to anyone about her lies nor thought she would ever get caught:
“I didn’t walk around thinking that I have this secret and that I was going to get caught. I didn’t stand there on my wedding day thinking, ‘S**t, I haven’t told her this’ because it was buried so far down. And I didn’t think your [March] piece was inevitable particularly because I didn’t think I bothered anyone.”
“Every once in awhile the thought would pop up that I wish I could tell Shonda because of the person that she is and because she has the ability to understand that people do really f***kd up things but that doesn’t make them a f***kd up person. She sees people and the antidote to shame is being seen.”
As for her brother? The Ankler noted he is “very much alive” and works as a doctor in Florida. As a result of her lies, Elisabeth no longer is with Jennifer, her family members disowned her, and she’s no longer allowed to see her children:
“I wish I had a grid that showed me who’s not talking to me because they can’t [legally], who’s not talking to me because they don’t know what to say. Who’s not talking to me because they’re pissed off. And then who’s sitting there waiting for me to reach out. I have no clue. It’s been a very quiet, very sad time. There were people who, when your article came out, were immediately very, very nasty on text. Family and friends who called me a monster and a fraud and said that’s all I’ll ever be known for and soon more truth would come out.”
Former colleagues also came forward to accuse her of bullying those “with less power than her” on set:
“I know the people that she hurt and that she lied to and that she bullied and they were always people with less power than her, compassionate people with kind souls and she absolutely targeted them. That’s what master manipulators do. What she’s done is absolutely unconscionable but she doesn’t have a conscience… She does not deserve to have a voice.”
Wow… Who would have thought this situation could get any worse. Since the scandal broke, Elisabeth has not been working – but hopes to get back to writing for shows soon, saying it would be her “dream” to do something for The Handmaid’s Tale. Yeah… We wouldn’t count on that happening.
What a f**ked up situation. Lying about a cancer diagnosis, a family member dying by suicide, and so much more is just beyond bizarre, especially when there are so many people who are actually going through these devastating moments. But we guess that’s trauma for ya!
Reactions, Perezcious readers? We wonder if Shonda or Ellen Pompeo have any thoughts on what happened. They’ve been very quiet on the matter ever since it was exposed. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. You can also read the piece by The Ankler HERE.
[Image via ABC/YouTube]