An Australian woman has revealed she convinced her friends and family she was battling cancer to gain the attention she says she missed out on during childhood.
Speaking to Mamamamia writer Shona Hendley, the anonymous woman says looking back on the time makes her "nauseous".
She explains it all stemmed from her childhood, when her younger sister was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, which came with "major flare-ups and challenges".
"Understandably my parents found themselves focused on [her] and trying to get her better," wrote the woman.
"Slowly, it felt as if I wasn't as important; that I didn't need or deserve their attention, until there came a point when I was in my late teens that I just felt unloved."
The woman says when she was 22, she felt the only way to gain the attention of her parents was to make up her own illness - that illness being cancer.
She says she researched every detail of her chosen cancer, including how it's diagnosed and the symptoms which lead her to undergo 'tests'.
"I knew it was possible that this could happen to someone. I just had to be careful about what I said so that I didn't make a mistake."
Once she finished her planning, she said the words out loud: "Mum, I have cancer".
"My mum believed me, and she was devastated.
"All I saw at the time were feelings I hadn't experienced for years, attention and love. And it made me feel good. I was so obsessive I just couldn't see what I was doing was so wrong.
"From that moment my lie just took on its own life."
The woman says she "schemed" and orchestrated plans and explanations, and even kept a book of notes to answer questions.
"Soon my entire family knew, my friends were told, and that craving for compassion and love that I had yearned for was now being thrown at me from every direction."
However while being the centre of attention left her feeling loved and supported, the woman says "the reality" of her lie soon set in, and she began to panic.
"I knew I couldn't get out of it...it was only a matter of time before I had to do something.
After weeks of an "internal tug of war", it all came "crashing down" about four months in.
"[I] found myself hysterically crying in my mum's arms, telling her everything. By then she had already started to piece things together herself, so it wasn't a total shock for her, which I suppose in hindsight was a good thing.
"She was amazingly supportive and just wanted me to get better; she knew it wasn't 'me'.
The woman says the consequences were huge she lost friends and family once it all came out.
"While many can't comprehend why someone would lie like this, I can, because I did.
The reality is, for many, it may never make sense because often these psychological problems don't unless you experience them firsthand."
The woman says she's telling her story to encourage others to admit and apologise for their mistakes.
Her story is similar to that of disgraced health blogger Belle Gibson, who fraudulently claimed she had cured her terminal brain cancer with natural treatments.