The Freckled Fox: NOT a Hoax

The Freckled Fox is a lifestyle blog written by Emily Meyers, a beautiful and stylish wife and mom living in Idaho.  Since August of 2011, Emily has written about fashion, makeup, decorating and cooking along with the day-to-day joys of raising five very young kids.  She and her husband Martin appeared to have a picture perfect life.  Then, in April of 2015, Emily wrote a post  announcing that Martin had been diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma.

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The Meyers received a huge outpouring of support from Emily’s readers.  Emily was eight months pregnant with her fifth child, and Martin was only 34 years old.  A few weeks later, Emily wrote another post announcing that they had decided to seek unconventional treatment for Martin in Mexico.

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A friend of the family also made a post on Emily’s blog asking people to donate to the Meyers family.  She wrote about what wonderful people Emily and Martin are and shared that they were going to be struggling with medical bills.  Then, she requested that anyone who wanted to donate to the family could send money to them via PayPal.  “Many of the costs for tests that they have done and the treatments that they are hoping to do are a financial burden that they do not have to face alone. I am confident that we could raise over $100,000 for them to be able to afford the treatments, and to pay the current medical bills they already have.”

Martin and Emily went to Mexico for three weeks.  Emily wrote that Martin received many treatments and had surgery to remove the tumor from under his armpit.

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They returned to Idaho, where Emily gave birth to their fifth child, a healthy baby girl.  In August, Emily shared with her readers that the family had bought a new house and that they were moving.

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Soon after this, Emily noticed a spike in her blog traffic.  She started getting comments like this on her social media accounts.

one of the nasty comments that started coming from annonymous accounts

Meanwhile, I started getting emails from concerned readers who were convinced that Emily and Martin were faking his cancer in an effort to fraudulently raise money to pay for their new home.  People questioned whether or not someone with a diagnosis like that would forgo chemotherapy for alternative treatments.  They said Emily didn’t post pictures that would help prove the story.  Martin posts a lot of pictures of himself lifting weights on his Instagram, and many readers expressed doubts that he’d be able to do that.  The scar from his surgery to remove the underarm tumor isn’t clearly visible in a lot of his pictures.  Some readers wondered how Emily could post recipes for smoothies and pictures of her outfits while her husband struggled with an illness like melanoma.

Last night, Emily and I talked on the phone for two hours.  She went through the entire story of Martin’s diagnosis and the reasons they choose to have his cancer treated in Mexico.  She even went into great detail about why they decided to buy a new house in the midst of a terminal illness battle.  After speaking to Emily, I am 100% convinced of the veracity of her story.  Martin was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma, and he is being treated in Mexico in an attempt to cure the disease.

the mass with kneedle_biopsy marks in the center and the catheter out of his chest

Here’s a picture of Martin’s tumor before it was removed.

Right after the surgery with the fluid drain below the stitches.they did such an awesome job


That picture is from after the surgery.

a rare selfie with his scar and the drain hole. you can barely see it most of the time

Please note the scar under his arm.

Emily also forwarded me many many emails between she and Martin and doctors in Mexico and Germany about treatment options.  All the details in these emails matched the story she’s been sharing on her blog since April.

Still not convinced?  Emily and Martin shared with me a boatload of medical paperwork confirming his diagnosis.  For the record, the editing shown was done by me in order to keep some remnants of Martin’s privacy.




Why didn’t Emily share this proof on her blog?  She views it as an outlet for her own creativity and she likes to keep her blog uplifting.  She felt that posting tons of details about Martin’s illness would be a downer for her readers.

Why did they go to Mexico for treatment?  After being diagnosed in Idaho and getting a consultation in Utah, they were advised to enroll Martin in a clinical trial.  One of the suggested trials involved infecting with Martin with herpes and then trying to direct the virus to attack his melanoma.   Neither one of them were comfortable with the treatment plans that were suggested.  In clinical trials, you never know if a patient receives the real treatment or a placebo; EDIT: this is not true in a clinical trial at all- my mistake, not Emily or Martin’s- I misunderstood a description given to me by a medical professional who I consult with about this blog- THW- Martin and Emily wanted to ensure Martin had the chance to fight his illness with every available weapon.  Martin had a friend who suffered from melanoma and underwent chemotherapy only to die during treatment.  They are still keeping their options open for more conventional treatment if needed, but for now, this is their choice.

Why did a friend make a post asking for donations?  Emily and Martin were overwhelmed with the support their real-life friends and family provided for them after his diagnosis.  One friend wanted to start a GoFundMe page.  Emily didn’t know much about that and the friend asked if Emily would allow her to post on the blog.  They chose PayPal for donations because GoFundMe takes a larger percentage of donations as a fee.

Why did they buy a new house?  Martin had safety concerns for Emily and the children.  Moving was on his bucket list.  They just happened to find a house in their budget that was extremely close to Martin’s family.  They jumped on it.

Most of the time, this blog is about revealing people who are faking illnesses online.   In this case, Martin and Emily are being completely honest, but they have had a difficult time walking the fine line between sharing information about his battle and keeping a level of privacy for their family.  I hope this clears up any doubts that readers might have about Martin’s illness, and I hope the family receives the support and well-wishes they deserve.

(Thanks to Diana Almanza, Becky Rogers and JT  for their research and help with this entry, and thanks to my lovely sister for her edits).

29 thoughts on “The Freckled Fox: NOT a Hoax”

  1. It’s nice to finally have an answer on this, because I adore their family but the rumors of them being liars like Belle Gibson was distressing.

  2. It is extremely unusual to be given a placebo for a clinical trial involving cancer patients, and only done under strict protocols. The patient would be informed if they were given a placebo. If Martin is not taking part in a trial because of this concern, he should reconsider.

    And this still is an odd case. How in the world did they dx metastatic cancer through a biopsy of a single area (as metastatic is by its definition a cancer that has spread to other parts of the body)? Also don’t know why they would call it an unknown primary, given he has a melanoma with a visible tumor. Maybe he just has really incompetent doctors, I don’t know.

    Hopefully he will seek out more traditional care. I’ve known a couple of people with metastatic melanoma who had lived for several years with standard treatment.

    1. Ann, I was really wrong in my description of a clinical trial. My error, not Emily’s- I misunderstood a description given to me by a medical professional. Correcting now!

    2. Just in answer to your questions in the second paragraph; biopsy of the cells in his axillary mass (which is likely a lymph node, although it doesn’t say that in the report) showed melanoma, which is a cancer of the skin. The fact that it was diagnosed from this site and not from a skin lesion (a mole, for example) means that by definition, it has metastasized. This is also the reason why they say “unknown primary”; the original site of the cancer is unclear, but the cells of the axillary biopsy show that it is a melanoma, so they know there is a primary lesion somewhere.

      1. Thanks for that clarification. My sister died of a CUP, and I’m still not clear on all the ins and outs of that particular cancer. The complexity of this disease is staggering.

    3. My wife is envolved in a clinical trial, 1/2 of the participants are given the real drug and the other half a placebo this is computer generated otherwise you would have people trying to work the system. Emily-Marty are not fake and my Heart breaks for what they are dealing with

    4. A primary would typically be a mole or initial source/finding of a tumor and usually it’s a lower stage. The tumor he had was probably not the primary as it was already spread throughout the lymphatic system. Melanoma is a scary beast and very misunderstood.

  3. “Alice” over at GOMI should be ashamed of herself. People there are so bored and desperate for a scandal they added stress to an incredibly painful time in this family’s life.

    Thank you for clearing things up. We should all remember that when we hear hooves, to think of horses not zebras. A family keeping a small semblance of privacy is far more likely to be protecting themselves or *gasp* BUSY than engaging in an enormous fraudulent con.

    1. I’m not a WK for GOMI or Alice, but in her defense, the Internet is riddled with medical scams. I’m sure she feels terrible but in my opinion, anyone who isn’t skeptical when they read about funding for medical crises has been living under a rock.

      Best wishes for healing for this family.

      1. The hoaxers have ruined things for real cancer patients in a number of ways. Even participating on a support forum, as I do, is now an exercise in caution. We only have so much energy to spend on helping others, and it leaves you feeling pretty jaded when you realize someone you’ve been supporting is actually faking it.

        And once fundraising gets involved, it’s even more complicated. If I found myself in this position I would feel compelled to post my medical dx, with sensitive info redacted, in order to provide proof right from the get go. It’s the only way now to avoid this kind of situation.

  4. I agree that things on GOMI snowballed out of control, however, the fact that this website exists is proof that cancer on the internet is commonly taken with a grain of salt. It’s sad, but true. Especially when some of the puzzle pieces don’t seem to fit. Social media is a double edged sword, the user gets to portray their life to others exactly how they choose, however this also skews reality. So FF/Martin’s unusual, sterile, heavily filtered and curated portrayal of terminal cancer made people wonder.

    Then things got ugly and nasty.

  5. I stumbled into your blog through a link from another blog I follow. I want to share a story with you.

    A few years ago my 10 year old niece was dying of cancer. I don’t have any children of my own, and my niece was like a daughter to me. Her illness devastated me in ways you could not imagine. Watching her suffer was agonizing for me, and I didn’t know where to turn – I couldn’t lean on my sister, because she needed me to be strong for her. I don’t have that many close friends, I’m not that close with my other family members, I didn’t have anyone to turn to for support. So I turned to the internet. I started writing a blog about my niece. I changed the names of everyone involved, and the location, and many of the other details in order to remain anonymous and to protect her identity too. I wrote about her illness and treatment. I wrote about my feelings about what she was going through, and what I was going through, and what my sister and her husband were going through. I wrote my deepest thoughts in that blog, and I spent many sleepless nights writing and pouring out my heart to the strangers I had come to know there. Everything I wrote was true, just the details were changed. My blog wasn’t there to document every detail of every event, it was there to express my feelings, and all of the feelings I wrote about were absolutely real. The support I received from the internet community was a godsend, and I truly believe I would not have survived without it.

    Then one day I got an email from someone much like yourself, who had a blog about people faking illness on the internet. Apparently they had noticed some discrepancies in the way I told my story, some things that didn’t quite add up. I guess I must have changed some details in a way that aroused their suspicions. They had been poking around using probably some of the same techniques you use, and had discovered my real identity. They published a story about me on their blog, posting my real name, where I lived, where I worked. They even contacted all of my facebook friends and told them what a liar I was. The way they told it, they made it sound like I made the whole thing up just to get attention. When my sister read this, she got the very mistaken impression that I was using her daughter’s illness to get attention for myself, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. My relationship with my sister has never been the same since then, and it has been many years now since this all happened.

    My whole world came crashing down that day. That blog was my diary, and suddenly all of my deepest and darkest thoughts were out there for the world to see, and my real name was now attached to it! I didn’t know what to do. I tried to explain what happened, to make it clear that I wasn’t just trying to get attention. I tried to explain that all of the people and events I wrote about were absolutely real, just changed for anonymity, but no one believed me. No one understood. In their minds, I was just a horrible person who was playing with people’s emotions for my own amusement. You can’t begin to imagine what that felt like, on top of everything else I was already going through. I was at the end of my rope, and I even considered suicide. All because of a blog – the blog that was my lifeline through the most difficult time in my life had suddenly become my worst nightmare.

    My point is this: you don’t know who these people are. You can’t know what’s going on in their lives, and you can’t be sure you’re not calling out someone who’s just like me. You can’t assume someone is “faking it” just because some of the details don’t add up. You can’t assume a discrepancy in names or places or events means a person is making up the whole thing and has some kind of mental illness. Sometimes people write because it gives them comfort, or helps them process, or find support for real-life events you couldn’t possibly understand or even know about. No matter how careful you are, no matter how thorough you think you’re being in your investigation, you still might be wrong. And when you are, the effects are devastating. I know because I’ve been there.

    1. I am very sorry for the loss of your niece, first of all.

      I have built up a pretty good reputation with this blog over the last almost four years. I can assure you that I didn’t approach Emily or her family in a confrontational way at all. I sent her an email because I knew she had seen the posts being written about her family on a few message boards- pretty vile accusations and insults. I sent her a link to my blog and asked her if she wanted to talk about the posts. I never once accused her of faking anything, and I didn’t ask her to send me medical proof or anything like that. We talked on the phone, at her request, and she followed up with emails with the proof she decided to share.

      It was also my idea to write this post verifying Emily and Martin’s story. It seemed like the right thing to do, and I stand by that decision.

    2. I’m deeply sorry for what you went through.
      This is part of why people who *do* fake things cause so much damage. Because nobody knows who to trust any more.
      It sounds like the person who ‘outed’ you didn’t give you a chance to set them straight. I like how Taryn and her group work because they always contact the person before they go public, and from what I’ve read, they try to have some support or treatment on offer, if the person will accept. I’m just so sorry that something that was meant to be cathartic for you turned into a nightmare. I hope you can regain your sister’s trust.
      My heart goes out to you.

    3. I am so sorry for what you went through. I really really hope you can put behind all that and move on with your life, and make amends with your sister.
      I don’t know what else to say other than what Fiona said. This is part of the collateral damage caused by people like Belle Gibson. Nobody knows whom to trust anymore, and in the process innocent people like you suffer.
      But not saying anything can also be equally dangerous because there are many cancer patients who follow/believe fakers and try things that don’t work and put themselves through even more misery on top of cancer. I think the only thing one can do is to be balanced in what they say and give the other party a chance to explain, which Taryn always does. I am truly sorry you did not get the same kind of chance to explain your side. I wish you all the luck in the world

  6. My father died of melanoma. It was a horrible way to go. My heart goes out to Emily and Martin. My father did have a surgery and radiotherapy which made him awfully sick – and died anyway. Once it’s spread – you can’t stop it. With a terminal diagnosis, who can blame someone for trying other things, especially if they don’t make you suffer as much as conventional treatments do?
    This is why it’s so important to weed out the fakers. Because REAL people who are going through hell, are so often accused of being fakers too. People don’t know who to trust any more. It’s heartbreaking. I hope that people can start to think before they accuse, and ask someone like WarriorEliHoax group to investigate before they hit out and cause more untold pain.
    Thank you for the work you do.

  7. In case you are still in touch with Emily and Martin, I just wanted to note that I would STRONGLY suggest that they see a melanoma expert in the US. My father was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma this fall and there are 4-5 new drugs that have been approved to treat it in the past year, with kind of staggering success (before 2011, metastatic melanoma had a 5 yr survival rate of about 5%…I will be very interested to see what that rate is in 2018-19, when data is available for new immunotherapies). These drugs are FDA-approved, many in the past 2-3 months, and a melanoma specialist should know about this–no need to enter a clinical trial (while, as you note, placebos are not generally given in cancer trials, you still don’t know which arm you’re receiving). It makes my heart drop to see that they are taking chances in Mexico when there is a really good chance of survival here.

  8. Why is the scar under his left arm on the last picture. Now accusatory, just wondering if I missed something. Jisut heard you on NPR

  9. Thank you so much for this post! I can’t believe people were saying such horrible things, that’s ridiculous. It takes a special kind of stupid to attack her the way that one commenter did. Seriously people that is so infuriating. Love you, Emily Meyers and always keep you in my prayers! ❤️❤️❤️

  10. Marty Meyers died today. Thought you’d all like to know. It’s a shame anyone thought to tarnish the Meyers’ family reputation by falsely accusing them of lying… while they were going through the most horrific trial of thier lives.

    Let us all learn the facts before we choose to speak. The Meyers need our utmost support and love at this time, not our inaccurate maligning condemnation. It’s absolutely despicable, downright cruel and inhuman. Some people, who apparently think of themselves as decent, owe some pretty severe apologies.

  11. I have been following that sweet family for a few months now. I put Martin on my family’s prayer list at church. I am so very sorry to hear the sad news. I will continue to keep Emily and her beautiful children in my daily prayers!

  12. I really hope that the people who had doubts with her story feel so bad now. How can you think so negative about other people. Please check her latest pictures on instagram and you immediately know whats going on out there. I can feel the pain by reading her messages en seeing the pictures and I know that would be just 1% of what it really feels like for her and her family. I have so much respect for this woman.

  13. Broke my heart when I saw this story – people can be so cruel – I’m so sorry to hear about Marty’s passing. Sending love and prayers.

  14. While I never participated at GOMI, I thought this was surely fake.
    I was in denial.
    How could how could such a young, beautiful family have to endure something so terrible? I learned of Martin’s death early yesterday morning and my thoughts have been with the Meyers ever since. My heart is broken for them, I wish them all peace.

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