On the day Lisa DiGiovanni found out her sister was going to start hospice care, she couldn’t stop thinking: I am such a jerk.
It’d been an emotional nine months. In February 2011, Lisa’s younger sister, Lori Stilley, had told family and friends that she’d been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Less than two weeks later, she revealed it had spread into the surrounding tissue, earning the dire diagnosis of “Stage III.” By the end of May, she told everyone that despite chemo and radiation, the cancer had reached “end stage.” “I have fully processed the notion that I am ‘terminal,’” Lori wrote on Facebook, where she’d eloquently journaled the details of her illness. Once she stopped treatments, the doctors expected “it would probably be a matter of weeks.”
Lori was 39, divorced and out of work. She had no health insurance. And she was also a single mom. Kylie was 11. Jack was just five.
Lisa was beside herself, worrying about what would happen to her niece and nephew when their mother died. She would wake up in the middle of the night, sobbing about how unfair it was. She hadn’t always had a great relationship with her sister over the years. But the realization that she was going to lose her only sibling made Lisa forget all that.
I don’t want to have any regrets, she thought. None at all. She organized a t-shirt fund-raiser for “Proud Members of Lori’s Team,” raising more than $3,000 for Lori; planned a dream wedding for Lori and her fiancé in just nine days; helped organize a beef-and-beer to benefit Lori’s kids, which raised another $5,200.
Hundreds of people rallied to help. They gave cash and gift cards, threw fund-raisers at local bars. They arrived at Lori’s South Jersey home in Delran with enough groceries to stock the pantry. (One woman brought dinner every Thursday for months.) Soon, Lori had 360 people following her on her “Team Lori Rocks” Facebook page.
“People were living it with Lori,” Lisa says now, sitting in her dining room in Gibbsboro. She pulls out a thick folder, stuffed with the emails, the bank statements, the letters, all of those Facebook posts documenting the past year. “People were saying, ‘That’s what my mom went through.’ It was kind of cathartic for them … to be able to help.”
Lori’s story didn’t always add up. Why, for instance, did she insist on going to her chemo treatments at Cooper Hospital alone? Why wasn’t her hair falling out? Why didn’t she look … sick?
“Who would lie about having cancer?” Lisa’s husband Mike would say when Lisa dared pose such queries. She couldn’t stop wondering, though: What did it mean? That maybe … Lori … didn’t … ?
Lisa couldn’t say it out loud. What if she was wrong? Believing her sister was dying from cancer was actually more bearable than the alternative. Whenever something came up that made her doubt the severity of Lori’s illness—whenever something didn’t quite track—the story would take a devastating turn.
Like on October 28, 2011, almost nine months after the whole ordeal had begun, when Lori posted to Facebook: “Starting the morphine drip mid next week.” Oh my God, Lisa thought. How could I have questioned her? My sister is starting hospice. My sister is about to die.
I am such a jerk.
Back on April 13, 2011—about a month after Lori Stilley publicly announced on Facebook that she had cancer, the day after she posted about how she had started writing letters to her daughter for every milestone in her life that Lori knew she’d miss and how she and her fiancé, Bill Stilley, had discussed which photos she wanted to be buried with—Lori and her sister were talking on the phone.
“All I want to do is to marry Bill and turn 40,” Lisa recalls Lori telling her.
“Well, I can’t get October here faster,” Lisa replied, referring to Lori’s birthday, “but I can plan a wedding.”
Growing up in Delran, Lisa had always tried to watch her little sister’s back. Soft-spoken and reserved, she often played the role of her sister’s protector, even though she always suspected Lori was their parents’ favorite—the witty, smart, outgoing one, the one who loved to be the center of attention. But this certainly wasn’t the time to squeeze sour grapes. A few hours after hanging up with Lori, Lisa found someone who could marry Lori and Bill and texted her sister: “We’re good for the 23rd.”
As Lori later described it on Facebook, she read the text message, then leaned over to a woman in the chemo chair next to her and asked what today’s date was.
“The 13th,” the woman told her.
“The 13th?” That left only nine days for planning! Lori’s enthusiasm, she confessed in the post, quickly deflated. She turned back to the woman and asked, “How do I do this to the person I love most? How … do I exchange vows when my outcome is so uncertain and [I] could possibly only be around briefly?”
No matter. When the inner circle of “Team Lori Rocks” got wind of a wedding in the works, they pulled together. One high-school acquaintance phoned the Moorestown Community House, a gorgeous, stately manse with a stunning wood-paneled ballroom, and explained Lori’s situation.
The owner offered the space at a discount—just $500—which the friend paid. She also negotiated a reduced rate with a caterer, mostly paid for by Bill’s boss. Another friend donated the cake and centerpieces. Other friends came through to photograph and film the wedding. Bill’s sister took care of the DJ.
The weekend before the wedding, Lisa drove Lori to David’s Bridal in Maple Shade. Lori shuffled into the store carefully, leaning hard on her sister’s arm. By that point, her pain was “tremendous,” she wrote, sometimes forcing her to double over and cry out.
Lori had been in pain for a long time, even before the cancer. A year and a half earlier, she’d suffered a stroke that she said left her in such excruciating pain and caused such debilitating neurological issues and memory loss that she needed to quit her job as a crisis counselor at Kennedy and Our Lady of Lourdes hospitals. For months, she and Bill, whom she lived with, had been waiting for disability payments to come through. Money was tight. The $250 for the wedding dress would need to be withdrawn from the bank account where they’d been depositing proceeds from the t-shirt fund-raiser. That account was in Lisa’s name, because Lori had told Lisa that she’d once defaulted on a loan; any assets in Lori’s name would be garnished. But Lori had an ATM card for the account. The pin number was the sisters’ birth months.
When the ladies working at David’s Bridal heard Lori’s story, they all broke into tears.
“I didn’t even think she’d make it to the wedding,” says one friend, who’d been reading Lori’s ominous pre-wedding posts. While treatment—paid for by charity care, Lori told Lisa—had reduced the number of tumors from “almost a dozen” to nine, Lori wrote that there was “no real success.”
When Lori stepped up on the bridal salon pedestal, her image reflected in all of the mirrors surrounding her, Lisa steadied herself for the worst. Lori was already pale. Today, she didn’t even have makeup on. Wouldn’t her wan skin just disappear in that white dress? It was a beautiful dress, satin and strapless, with delicate beading. But, surprisingly, Lori looked beautiful in it.
“I was looking at her,” Lisa says, “and I thought, How can she be this sick and not look sick?”
“Oh my God. I can’t believe this is going to be here,” Lisa remembers Lori complaining immediately, pointing at the large bandage on her left forearm. It covered the PICC line into her vein for the “absolute hell” of the three-hour chemo treatments she wrote she was still getting, plus chemo injected directly into her bladder, which she wrote felt like “pure acid” whenever she went to the bathroom. “You’re going to be able to see it!” she moaned.
On Saturday, April 23, 2011, Lori held the wooden railing as she descended the staircase toward the ballroom at the Moorestown Community House, her train snaking down behind her. Most of the 70 or so guests cried as Bill’s sister read a story of how the two got engaged the year before in Times Square.
For that brief moment, the occasion felt almost hopeful. Later, during the reception, Lori’s then-five-year-old son Jack took the DJ’s microphone. Everyone fell silent. Lori hadn’t yet told her children that she was dying, but they knew their mother was very sick. Ever since her stroke, Jack would run to get his mom her bottle of Dilaudid pills when he noticed her pain getting bad.
Jack whispered into the mic: “My mommy … ” And then he started bawling. The whole room fell apart.
And yet guests kept making the same observation to Bill. “If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t even think she was sick,” they said.
And though it was there for everyone to see, no one paid much attention to that awful, unsightly chemo bandage Lori had been so concerned about. Caught up in the emotion of the wedding, Lisa says, no one noticed the bandage on her sister’s right arm.
Her other arm.
Within weeks of the wedding, Lori wrote that her liver and kidneys had started to fail. Her doctors, she explained, decided to stop some of her treatments until her blood levels showed improvement. Unfortunately, they did not. “It will take a miracle—literally—for these doctors to OK starting treatment again,” Lori wrote. “Nothing short of a miracle.”
A couple weeks later, on May 29th, Lori announced the worst news yet: “I am ‘terminal.’”
That word—terminal—obliterated Lisa’s suspicions. She secretly called Lori’s first husband, Brian, to make sure he knew how serious it was. Lisa was sure that Jack—Lori’s son from a subsequent relationship—would go to live with his dad, but the divorce from Brian had been ugly. (Lori had posted before her wedding, “I DO NOT want to die with my ex-husband’s name!!! LOL”.) Still, Lisa thought he needed to know, since it was unclear where Kylie, their daughter, would be going to live when Lori passed.
“I had the hardest conversation of my life tonight when my 11-year-old daughter sat on my lap sobbing telling me she is proud to be my daughter and doesn’t know what she will do without me,” Lori posted in mid-May. “No parent should ever have to have this type of conversation … no 11-year-old should either. But yet, here we are.”
Thus began the lasts. There was the last trip to Disney with Bill and the kids (paid for, Lisa says, by a retroactive disability check that finally came in). Then, at the American Legion in Gibbsboro, there was the last beef-and-beer fund-raiser, to build a trust for Lori’s kids. (Lori considered it “a farewell party for myself.”) More than 130 people came and raised $5,200. A week later, Lori posted that “90 percent of the people in that room will not see me again.”
Finally, there was the last vacation down the Shore. Lori’s family, Lisa’s clan and the sisters’ parents, Dottie and John Oppmann, all packed into a three-bedroom condo in Ocean City in mid-July. As Lisa remembers the vacation, Lori brought her wheelchair, plus a case of the guanabana juice she’d been drinking since she saw on Dr. Oz that it supposedly kills cancer cells. The first night, she and Bill went to bed early.
Then Kylie started sobbing. “This is my last vacation with my mommy,” she bawled. “I don’t have much longer with my mommy.”
Lisa knocked gently on Lori’s bedroom door: “Hey Lor, Kylie’s really, really upset.”
“Tell her to go to sleep,” Lori replied.
Tell her to go to sleep?
Lisa figured Lori hadn’t heard her. She stayed at the door. “She knows this is her last vacation with you,” she said. “She’s afraid she’s going to lose you.”
“Just tell her to go to sleep,” Lori repeated.
Lisa froze outside the door, unable to move. She can’t walk one room over and give her daughter a hug? Lisa thought. Really?
That, Lisa says now, “is exactly the moment I knew: Something is not right.” From then on, Lisa noted everything that happened that she thought seemed “off”—Bill spending $800 to rent a plane that flew an “I Love Lori Stilley!” banner over the shoreline; Lisa wheeling Lori to the bathroom on the Boardwalk one night and not hearing even a peep of pain as she peed; Lori describing how she and Bill had sex in the shower; everyone watching Lori jump out of her wheelchair one night … to country line-dance.
“When she got up and danced,” Lisa says, “Mike and I just looked at each other.”
“She wasn’t struggling at all,” Mike adds.
After they got back home, Lisa backed off. She didn’t drop by Lori’s house as often as she had been; she quit posting so much on Lori’s Facebook wall. “I was uncomfortable,” she says. “Nothing made sense.”
Others began to raise eyebrows, too.
“She didn’t ever post anything medical on Facebook. She wasn’t writing the minutiae, the technical terminology that people dealing with cancer use,” says one of Lori’s childhood friends who followed the saga.
“When people dropped off food, she’d divulge information that wasn’t asked for. Like, you’d hand her a pie and she’d say, ‘My hair isn’t falling out because … ’ or ‘My teeth are falling out, but only the ones in the back,’” remembers a relative.
“When my mother saw a photo of Lori from her wedding, she said, ‘That girl doesn’t have cancer,’” says a high-school acquaintance of Lori’s. “And I said back, ‘That’s a horrible thing to say! Who would fake cancer?’”
Lori got wind of some of this. On July 29th she posted online what she’d heard—rumblings about “where the money was going” and that people were “even questioning the validity of my situation.” Her Facebook posse jumped to her defense, calling the doubters “idiots,” “assholes,” “losers” and “stupid people.”
“I’d rather you be a healthy con artist who can watch her kids grow,” wrote one member of “Team Lori,” “than a gravely ill, loving mother, fighting this battle.”
When Bill wheeled Lori through the door of the Knights of Columbus in Delran on October 22nd, she thought they’d come to celebrate Lisa and Mike’s 17th wedding anniversary. Then she heard it: “Surprise!”
In April, Lori had told Lisa she wanted to stay alive long enough to get married and turn 40. Now, she would accomplish both. Lori covered her mouth with her hand as she surveyed the scene—125 guests, a giant cake with yellow flowers, a “This is Your Life” montage propped on the dessert table. Her friends anointed her with a lei and a silver crown with a glittery “40” glued to the front.
A few days after the party, Bill posted a thank-you on Facebook to everyone who came out. “The love projected by this group and her friends and family gave her the energy to get out of her wheelchair and socialize with everyone. She was SO HAPPY!”
Except, it wasn’t the getting out of the wheelchair that people had noticed. It was the fact that once she did, she didn’t sit back down.
For three hours.
“People were saying she was dancing and drinking,” says a friend who, around that time, had started checking Lori’s Facebook page first thing every morning, expecting to find news that she’d died. “I was like, ‘What?’”
Six days later, though, that news seemed imminent.
“Worst word in the English language: hospice,” Lori wrote. “Starting the morphine drip mid next week. Heart is heavy … faith is on double-time.”
Oh my God, Lisa thought when Lori called to tell her. I am such a jerk. “I started backpedaling,” Lisa says.
She logged onto the CaringBridge website, where she’d been updating a journal about Lori’s condition for people who didn’t have Facebook accounts. It had been quite a while since she’d written an entry. But now, with the situation very real and very grim, Lisa cried so hard she could barely see the screen as she typed: “Hold Lori close to your heart and in your prayers.”
On November 1st, the night before hospice would take over Lori’s care, Lisa’s 14-year-old daughter Brooke had a field hockey playoff game. Brooke’s coach had asked the girls to dedicate their game to someone. Brooke chose her Aunt Lori. “I knew she wasn’t going to be able to come to the game,” Brooke says. “But I was really emotional. The whole team was emotional.”
During the first half of the game, Brooke heard everyone yelling her name.
“Look!” her coach yelled, then pointed to the sidelines. There, in her wheelchair, was Aunt Lori.
After the game—Brooke’s team won—her teammates met in the center of the field and, with their arms hooked over each other’s shoulders, walked en masse to Lori’s wheelchair. Brooke fell into Lori’s outstretched arms and wept. The rest of the team surrounded them, leaning in for a giant hug. There wasn’t a dry eye in the bleachers.
Lisa didn’t sleep that night. She’d offered to take off work the next day and wait with Lori for the hospice workers to come, but her sister refused.
“We just want to do it alone,” Lisa remembers Lori saying. Lisa felt helpless. She set up a Facebook page as a virtual prayer circle, asking everyone who joined to observe a moment of silence around the time Samaritan Hospice was scheduled to arrive at Lori’s. Others organized prayer vigils of their own. Friends switched their Facebook profile photos to a headshot of Lori, smiling, with a caption in red letters: “Team Lori Rocks.”
Lisa was sitting at her desk that morning at Sun National Bank, picturing Lori getting hooked up to an IV, when her phone beeped. It was a text from Lori: “Did you see my status?”
Lisa logged on to Facebook. Lori had written about the field hockey game, about how proud she was of Brooke.
Lisa’s phone beeped again. Another text from Lori: “25 likes in two minutes.”
A few minutes later, another beep, another text: “38 likes in four minutes.” Then another text. And another.
“I find this really weird,” Lisa said aloud to a colleague. She showed her Lori’s texts.
“Oh,” the friend assured her, “it’s got to be just a distraction.”
Of course, Lisa thought. A distraction. That very day, Lori was releasing an e-book she’d written: I’Mpossible: How a Facebook Group Loved Me Through Bladder Cancer. Mostly a collection of her Facebook posts, it also had a special section at the end called “Love Letters to Lori,” where she included goodbye letters she’d asked friends and family to write to her.
At the stroke of eleven, Lisa texted Lori that she loved her, told her not to be scared and to accept help and focus on no longer being in pain.
Lori responded by continuing to update Lisa with how many “likes” her Facebook post about Brooke’s game was getting, and wrote, out of the blue, that for the first time in months she actually wasn’t in any pain.
What does that mean? Lisa texted back.
Lori responded that it was a known phenomenon for dying cancer patients to have tissue die and their pain disappear.
Finally, at 12:20, Lori texted Lisa again, calmly informing her that hospice had left without putting her on a drip, because her blood pressure was normal.
Lisa felt like all the blood in her veins had poured out through her toes. Her entire body went cold. All she could see in her mind was that team of girls, crying, walking across the field to comfort her dying sister.
Lisa immediately called her husband. “Don’t say a word,” she told him when he picked up, “but this whole thing was made up.”
“I believe in miracles,” Lori wrote on Facebook the next day. “I believe in signs they are coming … Hospice delayed for now … Miracle coming for a Team Lori championship?? You bet your ass!”
Meanwhile, her sister and brother-in-law hunted for evidence that Lori was sick. Or that she wasn’t. Something. Anything. Mike called Samaritan Hospice, explaining he was a concerned relative of a patient they were caring for, Lori Stilley.
Lori Stilley? They couldn’t find any record of a Lori Stilley.
“What about Lori Oppmann?” Mike asked. Maybe she’d used her maiden name.
Any Lori in Delran?
He called a pal who worked at Cooper Hospital, where Lori had supposedly been getting chemo, and begged him to look up one thing: Was there a Lori Stilley in their database?
Lisa found a psychiatrist in Alabama who specializes in Munchausen syndrome—where people fake illness—and sent an email explaining what had been going on. He wrote back that based on the information she’d provided, “there can be little doubt she is a Munchausen Syndrome patient.” Lisa cancelled Lori’s ATM card for the account where they’d been depositing donations, which still held a balance of more than $5,000.
Lori’s father, John Oppmann, drove to her house to confront her. But she had an explanation ready—she’d used someone else’s insurance card.
“Dad, you can’t use someone else’s insurance card!” Lisa yelled when her father told her. Soon after that, she called Hampton Behavioral Health Center, a local psychiatric hospital, to ask what she should do.
The hospital’s advice: Go to Lori’s house with a police officer. Again their father, a former Camden city cop, volunteered. But he returned with yet another explanation: Lori and Bill had called Cooper and gotten her oncologist on the phone. The doctor had spoken to John personally, confirmed that Lori was his patient, that he’d been treating her for bladder cancer.
“Dad, do you really think that you can call a hospital at 10 on a Sunday morning and get an oncologist on the phone in five minutes?” Lisa asked him. But it was clear that her father believed Lori.
Lisa reached out to a few of Lori’s friends. “I think my sister needs help,” she said. “But not the help you think I’m talking about.” No one would get involved. They were scared.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking: Who fakes cancer?” says one Team Lori Rocks member who’d delivered dinners to Lori even when her own finances were so tight, she had to skip meals herself. “But then Lori posted ‘I feel a miracle is coming!’—and I knew I’d been had.”
Others did, too. A flurry of posts on Facebook asked what was going on. But it seemed that anyone who posted a question or doubt was instantly deleted from Lori’s friend list.
“I posted on my own wall,” says Valery Petitt of Delran, one of the few former members of Team Lori Rocks who agreed to be identified for this story. “It was something like, ‘All this would end if she just produced some medical documentation, if she just posted some proof.’” She thinks that may have been when Lori dropped her from Facebook.
Then, on December 20, 2011, someone finally called Lori out on her own Facebook page:
Lynda Zimmerman Lotierzo: You should be ashamed of yourself. For somebody who has cancer in six different organs and not on chemo, would and should be dead by now. You are not a miracle. You are a fraud.
Jodi Klein: How can you say that? You’re not a doctor.
Bill Stilley: Jodi, I just sent that bitch an inbox ripping her apart.
Delran is a small town. A town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone also knows everyone’s mom. The kind of place where you can’t sit at the bar at Ott’s on Bridgeboro Road without running into someone you know who knows something you don’t. And that was basically how the news spread in 2012 that Delran police and the Burlington County prosecutor’s office were investigating Lori. The topic of “Lori Stilley” had died down a bit in town since the end of 2011, after all that talk on Facebook of “miracles” and “bitches,” after the requests for proof of Lori’s illness from the people who’d helped her and fed her and bought her e-book and raised more than $11,000 for her went unanswered. After Lori basically went back to posting what everyone posts on Facebook, her boring day-to-day.
But word sneaked out that people had been called into the Delran police station for questioning. Like Lori’s ex-husband. Like the friend who’d paid for the ballroom for Lori’s wedding. Like Lisa.
“I kept asking them, ‘Is my sister sick? If you could just tell me, is she sick?’” Lisa says. Because Lisa still didn’t know for sure, for absolute sure. She and Lori hadn’t been in contact in months. She’d been in touch with her parents only sporadically. She’d heard that her dad was telling people, “Lisa started this rumor that Lori isn’t really sick because she and her sister didn’t get along.”
Lori and Lisa’s mother, Dottie, says there were many rumors going around at that time. “As a mother, I want to fix this [damage in my family],” she says now. “But I can’t fix this until the God’s honest truth comes out. And I honestly don’t know what that is.”
By September 2012, Lisa had found out a few things she hadn’t known about her sister—most notably that Lori had been arrested before. According to court documents, Lori had been charged in 2004 with “health care fraud,” though the charges were dropped after she served probation through a pretrial intervention program. This confused Lisa even more—if her sister had done something like this before, why weren’t the police taking any action? On the morning of September 26th, Lisa emailed the police chief: “Please let me know what is going to be done about this situation.”
A couple of hours later, while Lisa was eating lunch, a friend who lives down the street from Lori sent her a text: “There are two police officers at your sister’s door.”
Oh boy, Lisa thought. Here goes.
The article about the arrest posted online that evening by the Courier-Post was shared on Facebook. And shared. And shared. And shared: DELRAN WOMAN ARRESTED FOR PHONY CANCER FUNDRAISING SCHEME. The charge was theft by deception. Lori was released on $25,000 bail.
Lori’s attorney, Adam Malamut, maintained his client’s innocence in a statement to the press: “The Prosecutor’s Office has not presented me with any competent evidence that would lead me to believe that they are able to prove my client did anything wrong. The only evidence I’m aware of are statements made that I believe to be slanderous in nature from a family member with whom she’s had a fractured relationship.”
The town was shocked to learn that the person who had turned Lori Stilley in to the police was her own sister.
“I was scared to death for [Lori’s] kids. I couldn’t imagine. I thought she was going to leave with the kids,” Lisa says. But Lisa had another concern as well—that bank account. It was in her name. What if the police thought she was involved? What if they thought she had been a part of it? “I had to clear our names,” she says.
The least surprising part was where so many people on Lori’s Team ended up. They circled right back to where it all started—Facebook. They posted, logged on for updates. But none of it happened on their “Team Lori Rocks” page, which had been taken down. In its place, someone—a very angry someone—had set up a new group. It was titled, “Faking Cancer Is Just Not Cool.”
One person has been notably on and off Facebook: Lori Stilley. Ever since her arrest, both the Team Lori Rocks page and Lori’s personal Facebook page have been hidden, or deleted. The woman who once wrote daily posts for almost 400 followers, convincingly detailing the most private, intimate details of her life, is now silent.
As she waits for the grand jury to hear her case, people still wonder: Was Lori Stilley really ever sick?
I tried, very hard, to interview Lori Stilley for this story. I called her attorney, sent a Facebook message to her husband, left a voicemail at her home. I went to her house, put a note in her mailbox with my business card attached to it. Nothing.
Then, on November 20th, I opened this email from “Lori S.”:
I received your note in the mailbox as well as your voice mail message. I am a bit perplexed as to what your “sizable story” is covering. The only “story” out there is the one told by my sister. Under advice of my attorney, I have not and will not be stating my side—the factual side—anywhere other than where it belongs: the courtroom. As much as I would love to go into detail what has happened to me, I will save all of that for my day in court. You stated in your voice mail that you spoke with a lot of “angry people.” I assume you are aware that this started as a witch hunt launched by my own sister A YEAR AGO, which led to a hate page on Facebook. I honestly haven’t seen or read most of what was out there, since it was the same story beat to death and it made me sick to my stomach seeing how sensationalized it had gotten and people needed to be a part of it. I read interviews with no less than 4 people I have never met in my life.
You call yourself a writer, and I don’t doubt that you take your job seriously. So I ask you, is there not a difference between charged and convicted? Will a group of people with a lynch mob mentality that NEED this story to be true not be full of hate and anger because they have let this “story” get viral? Anything you report, Ms. Glembocki, is based on allegations and accusations and would be considered nothing but slander when I am found not guilty. Just because “family” says something, does not make it true. At all.
I will leave you with one example of the sensationalism (BS). Several articles covering this story gave their spin that I faked this illness and scammed people to get my “dream wedding.” Then I read 3 times that family and friends scrambled to give me my “dying wish” to marry my boyfriend (he was actually my fiance for almost a year prior). Funny how I had a “dying wish” 6 weeks before I was even declared terminal. I wanted to marry my (now) husband in our living room. Period. Maybe 5 people. I didn’t want a wedding. I just wanted to be married. Bill and I both got text messages from my sister saying we were getting married the following week and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. It went from there. I can tell you that the 2 people that contributed most financially (which was not a huge amount) were our mothers. Isn’t that normal? Don’t people’s parents contribute to their kids’ weddings?? Since when is that a “charitable event?”
As stated, I can’t make you not do this story. I wish I could. My kids have had enough and this spin on my sister’s tale has been beat to death. I don’t need a media tour like her. I will, as I said, tell my side where it needs to be told. Your story will be nothing more than perpetuation of rumors, hearsay and hate that has been brewing for over a year. Again, some would call that slander.
The note was signed, simply, “Thank you, Lori Stilley.”
Six weeks later, I was roaming through Target when a woman passed me and I thought: I know that face. I was two aisles over before I realized: It’s Lori Stilley.
She was heavier than the most recent photos I had seen of her, but there was no doubt in my mind it was Lori. I abandoned my cart and dashed through the store, all the way to the exit, looking for her.
But like her terminal cancer, Lori Stilley was nowhere to be found.