What do you do when you're pretty sure your sister's boyfriend is faking a cancer diagnosis but you don't want to be wrong because that would be terrible? This is obviously quite a conundrum and one that definitely warrants a Reddit post asking for advice.
Here are the details: Austin's sister (who he calls B) has a boyfriend (who he calls S) who was supposedly diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago. But no one saw any physical evidence. "He's used tobacco products and served in the military," and he was apparently given six months to live, but that was four years ago.
Austin says S seems pretty healthy overall and hasn't worked in four years. He claims to have no strength because of his cancer, "can't breathe, passes out on occasion (not frequently), and hasn't been in to a doctor or anybody (and refuses to) in these four years." Obviously, Austin is suspicious that his cancer is fake. I don't think lung cancer is one of those cancers that you can pretty comfortably live with for an extended period of time if you're not getting treatment.
Additionally, Austin believes his sister and S's relationship is fairly "rocky," and S has threatened to kill himself if B ever leaves him. B has admitted that her boyfriend is an alcoholic, "he's shown lots of controlling/manipulative behaviors," and S won't let B's friends and family around him or his house.
This whole thing seems like textbook manipulation and coercion to me. Still, Austin doesn't want to be wrong about this cancer thing because that would be devastating as well.
S really does seem to have breathing issues, but Austin is starting to think they could be caused by something else, like asthma or just a general lack of him taking care of himself.
According to Austin, S's friends "joke about his cancer" and he does, too. No one seems to have the whole truth on the matter, and Austin has noticed some inconsistencies in S's story. For example, the times when he has passed out or "lacked strength" seem to be when alcohol is involved or when he's actually doing something physically demanding for the first time in a long time.
Austin simply doesn't know what to do in this situation and so he came to Reddit for advice. The first bit of feedback he got from many is that it really does seem like S's cancer is fake. "I've been in cancer research for the last eight years," one person wrote. "You don't get a diagnosis like that, do nothing, and live for four years. If he had been getting treatment during this time, it would be believable, but it sounds like this guy is lying to control your sister."
Others believe the question of whether he has cancer is secondary to the real issue at hand. "What matters here is that he is clearly abusive toward your sister and she should be encouraged and facilitated to leave him. If he has cancer or not, doesn't matter," another commenter wrote.
This is very true. It doesn't seem like he has cancer, but even if he does, he's using it to threaten her and isolate her from the people who can protect her from him. These are the kinds of guys who get violent when they're rejected. One commenter suggested going to the police with B and explaining that she wants to leave S but that he is controlling and manipulative and has threatened to harm himself if she leaves.
Almost everyone who commented agreed that S sounds like he's lying about the cancer. But at the end of the day, that's not what's the most important. The most important thing is making sure B gets out of what is clearly a toxic and abusive relationship.
The possibly fake cancer diagnosis is just one of the ways that S seems to be controlling B and manipulating her to stay in the relationship. If he was an all-around good guy otherwise, we might have a different take on the story. But he seems like a bad dude, through and through.
I just hope Austin can help B escape what is clearly a toxic relationship. Even if S really does have cancer, this still isn't a healthy partnership. B deserves better either way.