Terminally-Ill Girl's Twitter Account Goes Viral -- But Is it a Hoax?

When Amanda got a terminal brain cancer diagnosis, her @TrappedAtMyDesk tweets went from beautifully ordinary to deeply profound. Does it matter whether she was real or not?

What would you do if you had only three months to live? 

One Ottawa young woman named Amanda decided to share the remaining days of her life on Twitter -- and her tweets, all taken together, show the range of ordinary to profound moments and thoughts that make every life so remarkable, and so beautiful.

For the most part, @trappedatmydesk tweets before January 14, 2013 were mundane, and not too unlike any of ours.

And then: “My doctors office just called me to come in to discuss some test results. This can only be bad, right? The [sic] don’t call unless its bad news.”

Four days later came the confirmation via Twitter of her diagnosis: advanced gioblastoma multiforma. Or, in other words: terminal brain cancer. The next day, she wrote: “Deciding what to do for the rest of my life.”

According to her Twitter feed, she resigned from her job and vanished offline for two months. When she returned, she explained she left her phone at home while she traveled to Cuba and Central America, “where the people were spectacular.” She reveled among beaches, ruins, forest, huge turtles. She danced and learned Spanish. Then she came home when she started to feel too sick.

On March 25, she wrote, “Tonight I have to get up the nerve to call my mom who hasn’t spoken to me in five years.” Then in April: “Don’t spend time being angry at people. Forgive them. Life is entirely too short.” On April 10, she posted that she was headed back to the hospital for the last time. She thanked her followers for the good vibes, and encouraged them to “be good to each other.”

Five days later, her brother posted the last message that would run on Amanda’s account, announcing her passing.

Amanda’s relatively quiet story started to widely circulate posthumously after Toronto blogger Shannon McKarney discovered the feed, and created a simple, somber YouTube video showing its chronology.

Then started the rumors that this was a hoax.

Ultimately, McKarney says, she can’t fully confirm the veracity of the account, because she hasn’t heard from the family. But she’s not suspicious, for various reasons: "One, it would be a pretty ambitious thing to run a Twitter feed for three years just to pull it off. And secondly, because the tone wasn't right for it to be fake. She wasn't looking for any attention. Internet fakes thrive on attention -- that's why they do it. But this one really didn't. She was just living out her life very simply.”

And in the end, McKarney told us none of that even matters. “It’s entirely possible we may never get to the bottom of it. But what's been really uplifting is the number of people who said that it spoke to them, whether it's to be conscious of what they're putting out there, whether it's to be conscious of how life is very short and to live it with meaning, or even to prompt them to share their own stories of cancer and trial. In that way, it seems to have helped people -- and that, to me, makes the whole thing worthwhile.”

It certainly gave us pause to ponder how we’d live out our remaining months -- the places we’d love to see on earth, and how we’d like to treat our loved ones and strangers, and the lessons we’d want to impress upon others who had more time.

So to Amanda, whether or not your deeply tragic story was real or constructed, we thank you for the reminder to seize each miraculous day.


What would you do if you had only months to live?

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

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