A former co-producer and writer for “Grey’s Anatomy” has admitted that she spent years faking a cancer diagnosis, which she used to inspire a storyline on the long-running hit show and fool her colleagues.
Elisabeth Finch, 44, who also wrote for HBO’s “True Blood,” confessed on Wednesday, Dec. 7, that she has “never had any form of cancer”.
She told the Hollywood-focused newsletter The Ankler: “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.”
Finch, who was credited with writing 13 “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes and producing 172 episodes, told colleagues on the show that she had been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, chondrosarcoma, a decade ago, which she also wrote about for Elle Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications.
In a 2019 piece she wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, Finch said her own diagnosis inspired a storyline for the “Grey’s Anatomy” character Catherine Fox, played by Debbie Allen.
During her time working on the show, she pretended to undergo grueling rounds of chemotherapy and claimed the treatment cost her a kidney, a section of her tibia, and forced her to have an abortion.
Elizabeth Finch continued to fake the diagnosis until her wife exposed her soon after she found out about the lie.
Consequently, Disney, the parent company of ABC, and Shondaland, the company Shonda Rhimes founded in 2005 to produce “Grey’s Anatomy,” put Finch on leave in March as they investigated allegations that she was faking her diagnosis.
Finch and her wife are divorcing.
Finch ended up leaving “Grey’s Anatomy” before an investigation could begin and checked herself into an inpatient treatment facility in Arizona, according to the newsletter.
She said: “What I did was wrong. Not okay. F****d up. All the words.”
A former colleague from “Grey’s Anatomy” told The Ankler that Finch appeared as though she had lost her hair and that she “regularly took breaks to vomit” and “only ate saltines for long periods of time.”
The newsletter also alleged that Finch “taped a dummy catheter to her arm and shaved her hair to feign that she was undergoing chemotherapy.”
She also told The Ankler that she started lying about cancer after she had knee replacement surgery at age 34 and people in her life were “so supportive.”
She said lying was “my coping and my way to feel safe and seen and heard” after the support ended following her surgery.
She also alleged that physical and emotional abuse by her brother throughout her childhood contributed to her lies.
According to The Ankler, Finch also falsely claimed her brother died by suicide in 2019.
She claimed that she’d been absent from the Grey’s writers’ room because her older brother, Eric, had died by suicide.
She wrote: “I’ve been gone bc my brother died by suicide. He was on life support for a short while but ultimately did not survive. I say this not because I need or want anything from anyone, I’m not a delicate flower or whatever, I just want people to know I’m still here, still part of the team.”
However, her brother is alive and working as a doctor in Florida.
She also falsely claimed that she lost a close friend in the 2018 antisemitic terrorist attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Finch says that family members have disowned her and she is no longer allowed to see the children she helped raise. Her days, she says, are filled with long walks, talks with her therapist, and unanswered emails.
“I wish I had a grid that would show who’s not talking to me because they can’t [legally],” she said. “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.”