A mother has been arrested after allegedly pretending that her child has cancer and trying to cash in. New Jersey mom of four Susan Stillwaggon allegedly told friends, family, even her young son himself that the boy had cancer and was dying. She then sat back and watched the community rally round to raise funds for his nonexistent medical expenses.
Stillwaggon reportedly told people that her son had a form of lymphoma, a deadly cancer, and a neighbor said that the mom was going around saying her son had colon cancer. Police say that the town was holding fundraisers for the boy, who is in elementary school, by baking cupcakes, selling bracelets, and having bingo nights.
The mom had even told people on Facebook that her son had cancer. In fact, she reportedly told her SON that he had cancer!
It's bad enough to use cancer to try and get sympathy and collect money with such a depraved scheme -- but to convince your own child he has cancer?! What?!
The son was in elementary school, so by that age, he probably knew enough about cancer to know that it could kill him. He was probably scared. "He must be very confused," said a neighbor, astonished to find out that the mother was lying about her son's "colon cancer." (Mom didn't research her cancers very well -- the odds of a school age child getting colon cancer are virtually nil.)
The twisted facts came to light after police got an anonymous tip and also a call from the boy's school, which also suspected that his sickness wasn't real.
A reporter who went to Stillwaggon's house met someone claiming to be her mother, who told the reporter that Stillwaggon was in a psychiatric facility and that her daughter "is sick, something snapped in her head."
Sure, the woman might be mentally ill, she might have Munchausen by proxy syndrome, in which primary caretakers exaggerate or fabricate their children's illnesses. I mean, it seems we hear about a story like this every month. Or she might just be in it for cash! That happens too. Stillwaggon is being charged with fraud, child endangerment, and a few other things. Police aren't saying how much money she accepted from good-hearted and duped friends.
But I don't know how you can tell your child that he's ill when he's not. How you can put him through that fear and worry. Most moms spend the majority of their time trying to make the world better for their kids, trying to downplay all of the evil that goes on, trying to smooth everything over for them. And then you have someone like this, who does the exact opposite.
Heartbreaking and baffling. I hope this child can recover from what is, essentially, a huge betrayal of trust. How will this child ever believe what he's told ever again?
Why do you think a mom would do this?
Image via CBS Philly