Tenn. Woman Accused of Elaborate Cancer Hoax

Authorities in one Tennessee town are investigating a local mother who they say duped them with an elaborate story into believing she had advanced breast cancer.

Keele Maynor, 37, a former Chattanooga city employee, was receiving money and a variety of services from a local hospital and several charity organizations after telling them she had breast cancer that had metastasized to her kidneys and lungs.

Pictures on various Web sites show her alternately with a bald head or very short hair, and she kept an online blog detailing her purported medical struggles.

"I know God has a reason for me to be here," Maynor wrote in an Aug. 2 blog entry. "I just don't always understand or like what I have to go through to stay here."

The community is "devastated," according to Rachel Houghton, executive director of the Chattanooga-based Helen DiStefano Fund, which provides financial assistance to mothers with cancer. "We all thought she was very, very sick."

Maynor has since quit her job as an office assistant with the city of Chattanooga's Land Development Office. In a resignation letter dated Dec. 12, she wrote, "I have been untruthful with the employees of the city of Chattanooga."

Maynor, a mother of three, could not be reached for comment. A male who answered the phone at her home said Maynor did live there but wasn't home, hanging up quickly. Subsequent calls went unanswered.

Houghton said Maynor was "sweet" and well-liked in the community.

"You would never know that she was faking," Houghton said.

Word got out that Maynor apparently did not have cancer when Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga contacted local charities warning them that Maynor had never been treated there as she had claimed, according to Houghton and other cancer charities.

Karen Sloan, Memorial's media relations coordinator, told ABCNews.com that Maynor "did not receive any therapy, treatment at Memorial Hospital."

Sloan said Maynor had been using free support services at the hospital since June 2007. The hospital, she said, provides cancer patients with support from nutritionists, educators and social workers.

But Sloan, who said the hospital was still investigating the situation, said privacy laws prevented her from commenting further on Maynor's activities at the hospital. She also declined to comment on how the hospital learned that Maynor may not have actually had breast cancer.

'Slap in the Face'

Houghton said the Helen DiStefano Fund has provided Maynor with financial assistance twice. The charity, which receives money through donations and proceeds from an on-site thrift store, was currently paying Maynor's rent, she said.

Houghton declined to elaborate on how much money Maynor may have received from the organization over the years but said the fund typically pays recipients between $500 and $1,000 a month to help with anything from medical bills and rent to utilities and day care.

Maynor was one of 10 mothers currently receiving assistance from the fund.

"For the families that are truly fighting this right now, it's a huge slap in the face," Houghton said.

Houghton said the fund received a letter from Maynor on Friday saying that she had lied about the cancer, offering to pay them back. That letter, Houghton said, was forwarded to the fund's attorney.

Richard Beeland, Chattanooga's media relations director, said Maynor had been employed by the city since 2002.

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