The young Australian mum-of-five who faked having cancer comes out of hiding to explain her twisted deception.
It’s the story that shocked Australia: when young mother Elizabeth “Elle” Edmunds faked cancer, going as far as shaving her head and taking cash donations from strangers.
Now Elle has spoken out, saying that she wants everyone to know the truth behind her appalling ruse, adamant that she truly believed she had incurable ovarian cancer.
“I really thought I was dying,” says Elle, who, as a result of her actions, is now the subject of death threats and waves of online vitriol.
“I honestly thought my kids were going to grow up without me. When they told me I didn’t have cancer, I didn’t believe them and every day I wake up and have to tell myself I’m OK.”
Elle says her phoney story has cost her everything – including her partner John Heagney and her relationship with her kids.
“The one who is old enough to understand all this has told me I am now dead to her,” she says.
She still can’t explain why she invented the cancer, but now believes she had a breakdown – possibly connected to trauma from losing a newborn baby seven years earlier. She says it’s the only rational explanation.
But Elle knows she doesn’t deserve any sympathy for what she’s done; all she can hope for is understanding.
“I feel so bad for the people raising money,” she says. “I just want to pay everyone back and I promise I’m going to do that. I plan to make contact with each and every person who gave me money and make this right.”
It started when Elle called a family meeting to tell her loved ones she was dying. Soon, Elle began a self-prescribed chemotherapy course using tablets she bought online.
The chemo side effects made her nauseous and tired, but also unwittingly served to validate her bizarre betrayal.
Meanwhile, concerned friends and family had begun feverishly fundraising for her medical bills.
Convinced she was getting worse, the 31-year-old shaved her head before her hair had time to fall out from chemo and even planned her own funeral – going as far as picking out the flowers.
Elle insists she’s had no financial gain from her false illness and says she’s taking steps to pay back the donations.
Irate Sydney mother Jessica McKay, who helped run Facebook fundraising page Help For Elle, is another finding it difficult to come to terms with Elle’s outlandish story.
“At least now everyone will know what an evil person she is,” says Jessica. “I’m a good person who tried to help someone and it’s a very sad outcome that I’ve been betrayed and will probably not help out in the future unless I actually know the person.”
Read the full scandalous tale of Elle's deception and how she plans to make amends, only in Woman's Day, on sale Monday November 10.