An influencer who faked her death from cervical cancer says she did it to raise awareness for women who actually died from the disease

Bollywood actress Poonam Pandey in Mumbai in 2022.
Bollywood actor Poonam Pandey in Mumbai in 2022.SOPA Images/Getty Images
  • A Bollywood actor is in hot water after she claimed on Instagram that she died from cancer.

  • Poonam Pandey is alive and well, trying to persuade followers her intentions were good.

  • Pandey said she did it to raise awareness for women who have actually died from cervical cancer.

When a social media account for an actor and model announced her death, people sent their sympathies and well wishes.

"Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer," a post on Poonam Pandey's Instagram read. "In this time of grief, we would request for privacy while we remember her fondly for all that we shared."

After a bevy of well wishes, the account for the Bollywood actor posted again the following day.

"I'm alive. I didn't die because of cervical cancer. Unfortunately, I cannot say that about those hundreds and thousands of women who have lost their lives because of cervical cancer," Pandey said in a video with somber instrumentals playing in the background.

Critics online chastized Pandey for what they called a hoax. But the model said she did it with the best of intentions, according to a barrage of follow-up posts on her page.

"While I do understand how you would have perceived this in bad taste, I also implore you to consider the greater cause," Pandey said in one post. "Feel free to express your frustration — I understand. But this is not just lip service, instead I'm committing my entire body to the service of Cervical Cancer."

Pandey did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

The American Cancer Society recommends women undergo cervical cancer screenings starting at age 25. The disease has some symptoms that are easy to miss, like unusual vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain, but it is a "rare" disease for women who are regularly screened, BI previously reported.

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