The Santa Clause of Breast Cancer?

I have an odd admiration to ramble on about how we as people do not live our lives to its full potential, how we waste so much of our time plotting ways to tear each other apart, and how this world will forever remain corrupt. Usually, I fail to provide specific examples or something to relate to all my claims, but I came across an extremely compelling story on March 31, 2017. It was titled The Naked Truth. I spent time in between classes reading Jessica Ravitz’s piece.
The Naked Truth was about a woman named Paulette. The story we are all being told is that she had an “aggressive” form of breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. Paulette is an African American woman who decided her story needed to be told.
So, she walked.
She walked from Mississippi to Washington DC; she walked 1,000 miles. Oh, did I mention she walked shirtless?! Yeah.
“People need to see what breast cancer is, I don’t want to give them a pretty story wrapped up in a pretty pink bow about breast cancer because that’s not what it is. This is breast cancer, this is it, across my chest, the scars, and that’s why I walk.” – Paulette Leaphart
Paulette’s walk became world renown. She was featured in Beyonce’s Lemonade video, filmmakers jumped at her to get her to star in their films, and little girls and women all over the globe idolized Paulette for showing them they can still be confident because cancer did not remove their beauty or their worth.
“Her journey was bold, visual, moving. It offered a hero to admire and, given Paulette’s audacious decision to walk shirtless in the face of strangers, a rich spectacle to witness. It spoke to African-American women, who face the highest breast cancer mortality rate. It inspired legions of survivors. And it spoke to many who’d lost someone to the disease.” – Jessica Ravitz of CNN
After hearing the basics of her story, almost all of us can agree that Paulette sounds like the idealistic hero, the protagonist, the strength behind a seemingly vulnerable community. Shoot, I did.
I did until I read Jessica Ravitz’s The Naked Truth.
Paulette had a number of pieces that just wouldn’t fit into the framework she had given us. After doing a lot of research on Paulette, Ravitz had become very suspicious of her story. She contacted all three of Paulette’s ex-husbands, she met with old friends of Paulette’s, she contacted the filmmakers who tried to make her the star of her own story, and she talked to two ex-business partners of Paulette’s.
Here’s how some of the interactions went down…
Paulette’s ex-business partners told about how they had been asked to invest in Paulette’s daycare business. Being good friends of hers, they did. The problem they later faced was Paulette’s dishonesty.
“…Paulette had defaulted on her lease and had ‘fraudulently represented’ the worth of her business. Paulette ‘declined to cooperate with her counsel and failed to appear for trial,’ the court order read.
The plaintiffs were awarded more than $100,000, but they ‘never saw a red cent,’… Paulette filed for bankruptcy a few days later. ” (The Naked Truth)
In other words, Paulette never paid rent on the building she was using for her daycare. Her two partners were investing in something that wasn’t there, and after they tried to take her to court and after being awarded over $100,00, they never seen Paulette in court or their money.
The filmmakers also gave their two cents on Paulette’s character. The filmmakers, doing Paulette a favor, still got an astonishing load of attitude and lack of cooperation from her.
Filmmakers told her they simply wanted to document her journey and that she would be responsible for “her personal arrangements, logistics, support system and finances.” She had signed the documents to release the trailer and had agreed to be self-reliant, but when the day came, she put all her weight on the filmmakers and asked for guidance every step of the way. This upset the team because they simply wanted to capture her on the journey she was leading herself, but she had completely abandoned the agreement and fetched for direction every step of the way.
“Paulette also insisted on bringing her daughter. The filmmakers had expressed concerns about this in earlier conversations. How would Paulette walk and care for her at the same time? She insisted she could handle it.
They agreed to help out in small ways; they’d gladly walk Paulette’s daughter to the bathroom or make her a sandwich. But once the walk began, they said, Paulette wanted them to take on far more responsibility for her daughter than they’d discussed or agreed to — and when they resisted, she grew furious.
They had a film to make and couldn’t be liable for the welfare of a child, they told her. “
After facing many issues with Paulette in place of the film’s star, the team made the announcement that they would no longer be working with Paulette. They carefully worded their announcement to make it appear as though her stubbornness was not the cause of her departure from the film.
After the announcement, Paulette’s supporters verbally attacked the filmmakers telling them ‘God knows what they’ve done’ and they questioned how they could abandon a homeless woman….
The team was awestruck at how one woman had managed to convince all these people that she was homeless. The filmmakers had physically entered Paulette’s home; they knew she was not homeless, yet they offered to help her in many ways after her departure from the film.
Another incident occurred when a group called the A Team got involved. One member, Kimberly McCarty, had been a victim of Paulette’s lies. She herself had a criminal history, but unlike Paulette, she owned up to them; this was a solid reason to believe the stories she told Ravitz.
One story was a prime example of how financially unstable Paulette was before her diagnoses. Paulette had reached out to McCarty and offered to take her out to dinner, but after the dinner, she revealed she had forgotten her wallet, leaving McCarty to pay.
McCarty has been dedicated to exposing Paulette as a fraud and has even gone as far as to say she never had cancer. After this claim, Ravitz went on a mission of confirmation.
Ravitz later contacted a surgeon who specializes in breast surgical oncology to confirm that Paulette indeed had cancer. After showing her Paulette’s medical forms, she was able to tell Ravitz the following:
“Paulette’s 0.7 cm tumor is considered ‘very, very small,’… A ‘re-excision,’ after an initial lumpectomy, could have gotten the slight margin of cancer cells left behind…Instead, Paulette opted for a double mastectomy.
Paulette said she has a family history of cancer, so such an aggressive approach can be understood…she had what doctors describe as stage 2a cancer.
It should also be noted there is no definitive course of treatment for breast cancer. It’s a deeply personal decision a woman makes with her doctor. “
Overall, those who are against Paulette are claiming her walk is intended to financially support herself. She has talked about wanting her own reality t.v show, etc., etc. With small facts like these and bigger accusations like the previous, many are beginning to doubt Paulette.
I am personally torn.
I will not sit here and expose Paulette’s every flaw and every mistake; I will not venture to such lengths. I will, however, leave you with the information I have given you and provide access to Jessica Ravitz’s extensive research and story here.
Please let me know what you think about a predicament as such.
If Paulette is inspiring women all over the world to love their bodies and be confident with the scars cancer has marked them with, then does it really matter if she’s doing it for the money and attention?
Sometimes we have to think about the big picture. It’s like Santa Clause. We won’t tell children he isn’t real because he gives hope to them, his name brings joy, and the tales of his journey bring a new meaning to something as simple as presents.
Paulette may or may not be the Santa Clause of breast cancer fighters and survivors.
Maybe she is a “fraud”, but maybe it also isn’t worth exposing her to all who believe in her movement.
Let’s stop letting the world down, crushing people’s hopes and tearing away their security. Let Paulette make her money and bask in the ambiance of her fame. If the heavens choose to destroy her platform, then let it be so.
Disclaimer: the images used in this post are not my own. I do not take responsibility of ownership for any of these images.

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