Burlington County, NJ – Lori Stilley of New Jersey is one of the people most recently accused of faking cancer for financial profit, a growing trend it seems in the age where one can cyber-solicit donations with the click of a mouse and well-meaning friends and family pitch in to help those they believe to be ill fight the cancer they’ve been told is ravaging someone they care about.
But, as in cases like that of Lori Stilley, who was arrested Wednesday, that circumstance sometimes does not bear out. Stilley, 40, was released on $25,000 bail following her arrest for theft by deception, and the person who pulled the whistle on the alleged cancer faker was her own sister, Lisa DiGiovanni.
DiGiovanni says that her family has become divided over her decision to expose her sister’s alleged deception, but she also indicates that, despite being a strong ally to Stilley, she always had some reservations about her sister’s tale of woe.
Stilley originally claimed to be suffering stage 3 bladder cancer and posted frequently on Facebook about her alleged ordeal. DiGiovanni says that even in the beginning, Stilley prevented anyone close to her from possibly learning any specifics of her condition from doctors:
“She never let anyone go to the doctor with her. She had said that she just wanted to do this alone … I had really never pressed her, but thinking back, I wish I did.”
According to DiGiovanni, Stilley would request certain updates be posted to Facebook but not given to the family, a condition her sister found suspicious. Of the alleged hoax that went all the way up to an impending move to hospice, the local prosecutor says:
“The gifts Stilley received were not just financial … A friend created a meal calendar that was posted on Stilley’s website that enabled people to prepare and deliver meals for Stilley. Dates were scheduled months in advance by people who committed to make and drop off dinners.”
DiGiovanni says that the day her sister was scheduled to move to hospice, ostensibly to die, she wound up claiming her tumors began miraculously disappearing, at which time Lisa decided to disclose her suspicions to police:
“That moment is when I just knew, I felt in my heart that she had made it all up and and a lot of other people felt the same way … As people would question her, she would unfriend them and her husband would threaten them … I said I wanted to go with her [to her next doctor's appointment] because it didn’t make any sense to me and she got pretty mad at me,’ she said. ‘You’re not allowed to question her.’ ”
DiGiovanni says Lori Stilley has never been diagnosed with any mental illness but that she believes her sister is “addicted” to the attention she received for faking cancer.