LIFE & CULTURE

Is It Okay To Fake Your Own Death In The Name Of Women’s Health?

This influencer did it.
cervical cancer Poonam PandeyInstagram

A social media influencer and model has faked her own death to raise awareness for cervical cancer.

Poonam Pandey, who hails from India, posted a death announcement to her Instagram on Friday.

“This morning is a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer,” the statement read.

“Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness. In this time of grief, we would request for privacy while we remember her fondly for all that we shared.”

As the announcement reached Pandey’s 1.3 million Instagram followers, it was also quickly shared by various media outlets, with the model’s Wikipedia page also being updated.

The next day, the 32-year-old influencer returned to her Instagram page with a video of herself alive and well, explaining that her death announcement had been a hoax to raise awareness for cervical cancer.

“Yes, I faked my demise, extreme I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we?” Pandey said in the video.

“Cervical Cancer didn’t claim me, but tragically, it has claimed the lives of thousands of women who stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to tackle this disease,” Pandey wrote in the caption of the video.

“Unlike some other cancers, Cervical Cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease.

Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take.”

Pandey’s followers weren’t impressed by the stunt, with many describing the act as deceptive and unethical.

“Honestly shame on you for this stunt. Next time no one will take your real death seriously!” one wrote.

“Next time people won’t take you seriously, you just destroyed your entire credibility,” another person commented.

While Pandey’s actions were an unconventional, and perhaps a morally grey, way of raising awareness for the cause, they certainly accomplished what she set out to achieve.

For this reason, Pandey doesn’t regret the stunt, explaining that the effort resulted in the term ‘cervical cancer’ being included in more than 500 headlines.

“Just the day before, the Union Budget highlighted the cause as well but I can say with certainty that only small fraction would’ve registered it.

“It’s intriguing how such vital information was at the forefront yet failed to capture the press’ attention until the narrative took a dramatic turn with the news of my death,” Pandey wrote in a follow up post.

However, the question remains, does it really take someone faking their own death for people to start talking about women’s health issues? In this case, it seems so.

Like so many cancers that affect women, cervical cancer can be an ‘invisible’ cancer, with symptoms rarely showing until the cancer has progressed.

However, with almost 99 percent of cervical cancers being caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV), vaccinations and regular pap smears can prevent most cervical cancer cases.

But for this to happen, women need to be made aware of the importance of vaccinations and HPV screenings.

If Pandey’s hoax led to even one more woman booking in for a pap smear screening then her efforts succeeded in raising awareness and who knows, they may have even saved a life.

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