A young woman has revealed how her mother drugging her, shaving her long locks and telling her she had terminal cancer in an attempt to scam the local community still haunts her.
Hannah Millbrandt from Ohio in the US said her mom, Theresa, staged her chemo sessions and made her wear a surgical mask in order to extort more than R385 000 from the local community, reports The Sun.
Hannah was seven years old when her mom took her to the doctor with a cough and severe temperature, after which she was sent for a scan.
Theresa then sat her family down and told them that Hannah had a spinal tumour that “could be terminal”, which left the little girl’s dad, Bob, in tears.
“Overnight life changed drastically. Mom made me wear a surgical mask, telling me it would stop other people’s germs making me sicker,” says Hannah.
“I hated the way people treated me differently, with pity in their eyes.”
The small town decided to rally behind the little girl and organised fundraisers to help pay for the expensive treatment Theresa said her ill little girl needed.
“I hated the attention, but Mom was so grateful for their fundraising. ‘You’re my million-dollar baby,’ she told me, but I didn’t know what she meant,” she says.
According to The Mirror, Hannah’s mom, who was a home-care nurse, also administered medication to her which made her feel awful.
“I hated that I couldn’t ride my bike, or play with my friends. I had to wear my mask to class, and Mom came in to tell my teachers how sick I was, and what to do if I had a seizure.”
“My biggest fear was being separated from my family. At that age, I hadn’t got to grips with what death was, but I knew it would mean I wouldn’t be with my parents and that terrified me,” says the now 21-year-old.
Bob, who was away a lot for work, tried scheduling his days off to take Hannah to the hospital but the appointments would always be cancelled at the last minute.
Instead, Hannah would go to the doctor’s office with her mom and maternal grandmother, Mary.
“They’d take me for ice cream before, and it would make me sleepy.
“I’d wake up later and Mom would tell me the doctors had given me a shot of medication. One day I woke up with a bandage on my lower spine,” she says.
Hannah said her mom shaved off her beautiful blonde locks while she was sleeping, which left her devastated.
“At school, my friends cried when they saw me. I was so embarrassed I began to wear a hat. My teachers threw a ‘Hats for Hannah’ day – all the kids wore hats and donated $5 [R60] towards my treatment,” she says.
After an article appeared in their local newspaper, donations started flooding in for the Ohio native.
“The church donated $7 000 [R84 000] from bake sales, and the local firefighters gave me a puppy that I called Socks,” she says.
Hannah was dealt a devastating blow after her mom told her she had just “weeks left to live”.
“My world fell apart and I was so upset she sent me to a counsellor to help me come to terms with my [impending] death,” she says.
According to the Daily Mail, all the lies came to an end after one of Hannah’s teachers noticed her hair was growing back evenly and not in patches.
She reported the family to local police and her mom, dad and grandmother were all arrested.
Hannah’s dad, who said he knew nothing about the scam, pleaded guilty to child endangerment and her mom was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison, reports Teen Vogue.
“She never apologised or explained, although she told a newspaper she was scared my dad was going to leave her and thought if I was sick he’d stay.”
Hanna now lives with her dad and believes he knew nothing about the scam.