Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: An 11-year-old boy with a tumor in his neck from Hodgkin's Lymphoma needs prayers.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2005]
Origins: The above-quoted e-mail, no matter how well intentioned it may once have been, is a textbook example of all the flaws that can afflict
The message requests prayers for a boy suffering from a form of lymphatic cancer, but it provides no identifying information about him: Even such basic information as his first name or the state he lives in is not mentioned; all we're given is his
This e-mailed supplication on behalf of an unnamed child first reached us in August 2005, with the entreaty surviving intact since then, including its misuse of "juggler" (someone who juggles) for "jugular" (pertaining to the neck). While most ask that completed lists of a thousand names be sent to email@example.com, some direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and others to email@example.com. (
By 2008 this plea was circulating with an introductory line indicating it was issued by Peggy Lesley of Brookwood Church (in Mauldin, South Carolina). However,
"I wish I would not have sent that e-mail," Peggy Lesley said. "I can't take it back now. It's everywhere."In January 2009, we received a version that changed the location of the church from South Carolina to North Carolina, positioning the letter writer as Peggy Lesley from "Brookwood Church, Burlington, NC."
"People are e-mailing me. They're asking me questions about this child," she said. "I had some woman call me who said, 'I had a brain tumor and this is how I got rid of it.'"
As the months rolled by, Lesley was receiving thousands of
She also received dozens of phone calls from people across the United States who wanted to know how to help the sick boy.
Lesley explained to as many people as she could that the e-mail with her name on it was a mistake.
She also began to have doubts about the story contained in the original
"I believe it's possible there is no boy," she said. "I believe that this is an email hoax."
Lesley said she still receives 15 to
"I just wish that I would not have sent (the e-mail)," Lesley said.
In March 2009, we received a version that altered the location of Brookwood Church to Thomasville, Georgia.
Perhaps this message was once a well intentioned appeal on behalf of a genuinely ill child, but it is so vague, so old, and has been through so many alterations that it cannot now reasonably be said to represent any real-life case.
Last updated: 10 March 2009
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