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'Grey's Anatomy' Writer Confesses She Lied About Having Cancer: 'What I Did Was Wrong'

Screenwriter Elisabeth Finch is coming clean about the lies she made up—including ones that became storylines on the long-running ABC show.

Elisabeth Finch

Grey's Anatomy screenwriter Elisabeth Finch is finally confessing to a rabbit hole of lies.

Finch—who was put on a leave of absence by the show—opened up to The Ankler'sPeter Kiefer in a recent interview

She said:

"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 of me."

Finch did not own up to her big lie initially.

Kiefer prompted:

"Come on Elisabeth. I'm going to need to hear you say it."

To which she admitted:

"I've never had any form of cancer."

The thing is, though, it wasn't just a lie about cancer which is monumental in itself.

It's that it was the origin of a string of lies that bled into other areas of Finch's life, including her marriage and Grey's.

Finch began writing for Grey's Anatomy in 2015. Many of the storylines on the show were based on Finch's fabricated hardships.

She acknowledged:

"What I did was wrong. Not okay."
"F**ked up. All the words."

Finch believes the lies started as a response to loneliness after a surgery but were rooted more deeply from childhood trauma.

In 2007, Finch injured her knee while hiking and went through what she called "years of medical purgatory."

"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'."
"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."

It was in 2012 that Finch told colleagues and friends doctors found a tumor that was spreading to her spine and was not responsive to chemotherapy.

She chose chondrosarcoma—a type of cancer that's difficult to treat. She claimed she lost a kidney because of the cancer and also part of her leg, as made evident by her knee replacement scar. Somewhere along the way, a rumor circulated that former True Blood coworker Anna Paquin donated a kidney to Finch, but Finch has no idea how that lie started.

Finch told Kiefer:

"I know it's absolutely wrong what I did."
"I lied and there's no excuse for it. But there's context for it."
"The best way I can explain it is when you experience a level of trauma a lot of people adopt a maladaptive coping mechanism."
"Some people drink to hide or forget things. Drug addicts try to alter their reality. Some people cut."
"I lied."
"That was my coping and my way to feel safe and seen and heard."

Finch said her trauma stemmed from physical and emotional abuse from her brother Eric when she was a child.

"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, psychologist, 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."

Finch said her brother was "very good at doing things that were terrorizing and physical, but not enough to leave marks."

Kiefer reached out to an expert to inquire about Finch's connection to her lies and trauma.

Dr. Marc D. Feldman told him:

"This sounds like a classic case of factitious disorder."
"[Finch's] case is typical in a lot of ways except it has the twist of being involved in the entertainment industry."
"The main reason people seem to do this is that they have an underlying personality disorder or have a difficult time getting their needs met that aren't self-defeating."
"Instead of asking for attention or care, they engage in pathological behaviors that allow them to get what they want indirectly."

Finch claimed she had attempted many times to find a diagnosis, but she was always told trauma was the source of what she was going through.

According to colleagues, Finch told many unfathomable tales although, according to Finch, they are true.

"She always had some tragedy or bizarre hardship going on in her life."
"Things that don't happen to other people happen to her all the time."

Those stories included a Gulf War veteran who stalked her, slashed her tires and knifed her apartment door and a man who exposed himself to her while masturbating—angry from road rage—at a red light.

She also claimed antisemitic fliers were slipped under her door.

Finch filmed a political campaign during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in which she shared she had to have an abortion because of her cancer diagnosis.

She said in the video:

"It wasn't a decision I took lightly, but it was the right choice for me. The only choice for me."

Finch also missed days at work when she said her brother Eric committed suicide.

He is currently a doctor in Florida.

Ultimately, it was Finch's wife Jennifer who brought the story to light. Jennifer Beyer urged Finch to come clean, and when she didn't, Beyer reached out to Shondaland and Disney, even Shonda Rhimes personally, to inform them of the lies.

Needless to say, people are disgusted—especially those who have battled with cancer—and don't think Finch deserves a platform on which to try and clear her name.

Finch eventually said:

"When you get wrapped up in a lie you forget who you told—what you said to this person and whether this person knows that thing—and that's the world where you can get caught."

Finch finished the interview sharing her hopes for writing in the future:

"I could only hope that the work that I've done will allow me back into those relationships where I can say, 'Okay, I did this, I hurt a lot of people and I'm going to work my f**king *ss off because this is where I want to be and I know what it's like to lose everything."