Elisabeth Finch — the former Grey’s Anatomy writer accused of lying about her battle with cancer — admitted that she never had “any form of cancer.”
In an interview with The Ankler, Finch tells writer Peter Kiefer (who first broke the story in March), that what she did “was wrong” and not OK. The former producer said that her stories about her medical history, abortion, and family suicide were fabricated as a way to cope with past trauma.
“I know it’s absolutely wrong what I did,” she said. “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 was hired to work on Grey’s Anatomy in 2014. 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. She also perpetuated a lie that her older brother Eric committed suicide, despite him being very much alive in Florida and working as a doctor.
The former ABC writer and producer’s grand ruse began to unravel after The Ankler challenged Finch’s nearly decade-long claims of medical battles and allegations of sexual abuse by a male director while writing for The Vampire Diaries. Prior to Disney launching an investigation, Finch bowed out and resigned from the drama, checking into a facility in Arizona that treats women who suffer from a range of disorders.
Finch claimed she began to fabricate stories during the 2007 Writers Guild of America Strike, when she injured her knee while hiking and had to have knee-replacement surgery. “Everyone was so amazing and so wonderful leading up to all the surgeries,” she told The Ankler. “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.”
Her body of work went beyond the set of Grey’s during this period, Finch also wrote numerous stories documenting her fabricated medical stories, including for The Hollywood Reporter, Elle, and the Shondaland website, created by Grey’s producer Shonda Rhymes.
Today, 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.”