It is unfathomable to me that there exists a person that would do this to their own offspring. A New Jersey woman told her community that her healthy nine-year-old son was dying of stage three Hodgkin’s lymphoma so she could raise money for his “treatment.” To make the scam even more authentic – she even convinced her own son he was dying.
Susan Stillwaggon, 35, of Pennsauken, N.J accepted $3500 worth of funds raised for the boy. But worse than that, did I mention SHE TOLD HER SON HE WAS DYING OF CANCER? Oh yes, I guess I did. Stillwagon is being charges with theft by deception, forgery, endangering the welfare of a child and using a child to commit a criminal offense.
From ABC News:
“There were events held,” Pennsauken Detective Sgt. Cheryl Duffy told ABCNews.com. “There were probably 10 different people that organized some kind of something, be it a cupcake sale or those little Livestrong-type rubber bracelets. I’ve got kids walking around with canisters, and I’ve got Bingo events.”
Images keep flashing through my head of people coming up to her at these events, offering her heartfelt support and money. How was she able to look these people in the eye while perpetuating such an awful lie? And forget them – how was she able to do this to her own son?
Clearly, she needs psychiatric help. She hasn’t been arrested yet because she is in a hospital receiving treatment. I have to believe she is sick because the alternative is too much for me to handle.
Not only has her son gone through the trauma of believing he has a terminal illness, now he knows his mother is a liar who will most likely be arrested. Yale University professor of psychology Alan Kazdin told ABC News:
“He’s got two things going on that are really bad,” Kazdin said. “He’s got the weird situation that a horrible thing happened — he was told he was [really sick] — and once it comes out in the open, it gets worse in another way.”
It’s possible that the boy could be humiliated or potentially even have people try to take things out on him as a result of his mom’s alleged actions, Kazdin said.
“Separation from mom is a third part,” he said. “Separation from your most significant other. That’s huge for a child.”
Ugh. I’m going to go stare at my sleeping child for a few minutes. I hope this woman gets the help she needs.