I am going to say this twice in this review: Fuck Cancer.
This podcast has two sides: an incredible production value and a degree of emotional strife. Everyone knows someone affected by cancer, and many people know people directly who have died from cancer. I fall into both categories. The first person I knew who passed away from cancer was a classmate in middle school, and the most recent - the sibling of one of my best friends.
The toll of cancer is unfathomable in an all-encompassing way. Even if you keep the diagnosis and prognosis close. I almost didn’t listen to this podcast once I learned about the details of the scam. I was afraid of how difficult it might be for me, and I know some listeners will be like me. So, with that being said - this is the story of a cancer scam. There is no murder but there is a type of ugliness that can possibly hit triggers in a different way. Move forward with care.
While the story is difficult, there is a sense of comfort in the podcast itself. Not only is there an ending that people will be satisfied with, but the podcast wraps you in the story in such a way that it’s hard to pull away, or to feel too uncomfortable with it. I marathoned through most episodes, absolutely absorbed. Hours of my day were spent with this story because each episode has its own hook, line, sinker, and cliffhanger. The incredible effect of this podcast’s writing allows you to hold it at arm’s length and get through it, while also feeling both sides. The absolute horror of a cancer diagnosis, as well as the underlying suspicion dance back and forth.
The endless stream of questions isn’t answered through the first seven episodes, which are about 45 minutes each. Even as the final eighth episode is a full hour and a half. Otherwise, each episode is nearly an hour of brilliant interviews, voice acting of real blog posts, and ultimately narration from the main driver of this podcast Charlie Webster.
So the story goes, Amanda C Reilly started a blog when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to keep her friends and family in the loop. Through the years it was in remission, and it’s back again, she’s in remission, or she has six months to live unless she gets this incredibly expensive medication. That is until investigative reporter Nancy Moscatiello got a tip to dig into the story a little bit - to dig into the fact that maybe Amanda didn’t have cancer.
Lionsgate Sound, the production company behind this podcast, provides incredible support by blending the design to feel like it has that sheen of non-reality. How are these words real? I know that this is just a voice actor - but how is this just a voice actor? Even given the creative liberties that may have been taken with performing these excerpts, you’re hooked, sympathy and rage playing tug of war with your heart.
Sure, there’s no murder here but at the same time there is that reminder of how easily people can lie, can convince you to believe in a lie, and can take advantage of the most heartfelt generosity. This type of crime is so much closer to so many people because taking advantage of kindness is easier than murder. So many people are hesitant to donate to a Go Fund Me because of these stories. This crime is scary as it is day to day, and the scale that this woman was able to take her lie to makes you wary of being kind. This story is one of unfathomable reality.
Listen to Scamanda here.
If you thought this podcast was interesting, consider reading my review of Nobody Should Believe Me - which has a very small connection to this story.
So with that, Fuck Cancer.