There is a recent phenomenon that is occurring, in which, people will decide to obtain money fraudulently by claiming that they have cancer, or their spouse has cancer, or their claim is that their son or daughter has cancer.

In the most recent event, a New Jersey mom by the name of  Susan Stillwaggon not only lied about the fact that her 9 year old son had cancer, but even went so far as to tell her son, another lie, by convincing him, that he suffered from stage three Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  She then continued perpetuating the lie by holding fundraisers and telling the world about his condition.  Lying to your family and friends about your own falsified ailments is bad enough, but convincing your child they have cancer is the bottom of the barrel.

This candidate for mother of the year has been charged with theft by deception, forgery, endangering the welfare of a child, and using a child to commit a criminal offense as she collected $3,500 for her son’s “treatment.”

An anonymous tipster supposedly alerted police to Stillwaggon’s abuse, which had been happening for at least two months, and led them to open the investigation that revealed her numerous lies. The Pennsauken Township Police Department investigated and their investigation along with a medical examination and tests confirmed that the boy does not suffer from any life-threatening illnesses.  The mother had told her son’s teachers about his “cancer” and even held fundraisers to bring attention to his condition and raise money for his care. Interestingly, she did not share this information with her husband or mother, about her son’s “ailment.”

The deranged Stillwaggon is now in a psychiatric ward, where she will remain until her trial begins on May 2. While there is no word as to how her son reacted to learning he did not actually have cancer, the potential damage she inflicted on him could be unbelievable.

On the one hand, he has to come to the realization that he is not really sick…after living with all the fears that accompany the news, that you have a terminal disease, and that you will ultimately die from it.  The second realization is that person who you thought was there to protect you, your mother, not only lied to you, but even used you to cheat people out of money.  He also faces the terrible possibility that his mother may be, physically taken away from him, for a period of time, if she is incarcerated.  There are also going to be those people, both adults and children, who will believe that he was part of this conspiracy and try to blame him, along with his mother.  All of these feels could easily manifest themselves in the form of depression and/or anxiety and he needs professional assistance to work through all of these emotional traumas.  It is important that he realizes that he is not to blame for his mother’s actions or her ultimate punishment or consequence.

Stillwaggon’s actions constitute child abuse of devastating proportions.  Whether or not the mother’s mental state contributed to her beliefs and actions is irrelevant, since she was clearly unfit to parent at all. Hopefully the child will receive the love, care, and respect he deserves after emerging from an abusive situation.

Faking cancer is an all too common ploy that many use for financial gain, to get sympathy, or simply because, like in this instance, they’re too mentally ill to think they’re doing anything wrong.  Unfortunately, this type of scam will continue and the big losers are those people who are really sick with a terminal illness and dying.  It is this behavior that stops caring people from donating to families who, could and would, need your financial support.

As a cancer survivor, I have only the following comment: “if you need to get money, by lying about having cancer, I wish that the dear lord could give you mine.”

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