On November 14, Diem Brown died. Less than two weeks later, the publication she had entrusted with her final words was writing a tabloid story about how she had lied about her age.Brown was best known for two things: her appearances on MTV, where she was a regular participant on “The Challenge” series, and for her battle with ovarian cancer, which she fought several times before eventually succumbing. Brown’s cancer turned “The Challenge” into something more than the frothy, absurd escapism of drunken fistfights and hookups it had become.The American Cancer Society estimates half a million people will die of cancer this year. Not many of those people are famous, though, and Brown had a combination of pluck, beauty, and popularity that made her a perfect fit for People, America’s largest and glossiest celebrity news weekly. The magazine had exclusive access to Brown in her last days: she blogged for their website, opening up about everything from her hair loss to her chemo treatments to her friends’ tricks for cheering her up in the hospital. They were the ones who broke news of her death.”But one thing she never wanted to discuss publicly was her age,” People wrote in a story, published on November 24, just 10 days after Brown’s death, entitled “The Truth About Diem Brown’s Age.” The very magazine that Brown, her family, and her friends had allowed into her hospital room was now breaking “exclusive news” about her, covering a small lie about her real age the way they would report on a political scandal or A-list divorce.Diem Brown, whose birth name was Danielle, told people that she had been born in 1982, making her 32 years old when she died. In reality, she was born in 1980, making her 34. Brown worked in the entertainment industry, where it’s common for women to lie about their ages, and on a TV network whose flagship series is about pregnant teenagers. She was also a woman, where being young, sexy, and marriageable is of the utmost importance. There are many reasons that women sometimes lie about their ages. They include things like “I experienced ageism at work,” “I didn’t want to get mommy-tracked at my job,” and “Men my age want to date women who are much younger.” But rather than condemn a culture where a young woman battling cancer felt compelled to fudge her birthdate in order to get more work, People created a soapy storyline as a coda to a woman’s early death.Brown’s sister Megan confirmed the 1980 birthdate to People, adding, “Cancer robbed Diem of 10 years of her life.” In her too-short life, Brown had many things taken away from her. She was robbed of her health, of the children she dearly wanted to have, of the years she could have spent with her loved ones. As her sister put it, it also robbed her of the 10 years she spent being sick, going in and out of hospitals. Cancer can make you feel powerless, and Brown exercised the few forms of power she did have. She shared her story in public. She talked about the ugly and unglamorous aspects of her treatments. And she erased two, small negligible years from her age. Unless she was doing this on tax forms (and we have no evidence that she was), Brown did not commit a crime.It disgusts me that barely two weeks after her death, instead of honoring Brown’s death from ovarian cancer we are gossiping about a lie she told while she was living. A young woman facing an illness that no human deserves to face deserved to erase two small years as a coping mechanism. Imagine if, as you were lowering a loved one’s coffin into the earth, the person who had given her eulogy loudly announced that she wasn’t actually a natural blonde.