Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A 7-year-old girl named Jessica Mydek is dying of cancer, and the American Cancer Society will donate three cents to cancer research every time a message about her is forwarded.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1997]
Origins: It sounds too easy to be true: forward an
This "dying child chain letter" hoax victimizes the American Cancer Society. In the name of a fictitious little girl, people are exhorted to forward the letter on because each forward drops more money into the research coffers. Such an offer is hard to resist because it's a painless good deed, a way to enjoy a self-congratulatory pat on the back for "making a difference" without actually having to do anything. After all, it's being underwritten by the American Cancer Society and nameless corporate sponsors, right?
Uh, wrong. You see, there is no Jessica Mydek, and there is no such program to score up some easy cancer research money. What there is, however, is the long-suffering American Cancer Society, who have been left holding the bag. Our American Cancer Society page traces the history of this hoax, the many variants of the original Jessica Mydek message, and the numerous imitation hoax messages they have spawned.
Last updated: 27 March 2005
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