The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

October 9, 2008

National publication describes Athens woman’s medical ruse

The father of a gifted high school math teacher with Athens ties, whose story of having faked cancer on three occasions in three states appears in a recent national publication, says his daughter is in “psychiatric care” for her condition.

Suzanne Bass, a 1984 graduate of Athens High School and a 1989 graduate of Athens State University, is the subject of an investigative report in the Oct. 3 issue of Glamour Magazine by writer Erin Zammett Ruddy after Bass’ firing from the Webb School, an exclusive private school in the Smoky Mountains.

Bass’ father, Bill Bass of Athens, detailed his daughter’s long struggle with depression and bipolar disorder for Glamour, but declined to elaborate on her condition or whereabouts for The News Courier.

Ruddy writes that she was attracted to Bass’ story because she herself is waging a long-time battle against leukemia and knows the devastating effect her cancer has had on family and friends. Ruddy writes:

“After coming across a Knoxville newspaper story posted online about the scandal at Webb, I was instantly fascinated—and horrified. As a cancer patient myself—I have leukemia, which I’ve chronicled in Glamour’s Life With Cancer column and blog—I have experienced both the devastation of a diagnosis and the roller-coaster ride of treatment. Not to mention the burden of knowing how scared my family and friends were for me. I wanted to understand what had happened here, so I started digging.”

Ruddy describes how Bass was dismissed in the mid-1990s from her teaching job at Tanner High School after she told her family, students and co-workers that she was suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. After a year of bogus chemotherapy treatments, Bass’ ruse was discovered. She was then hospitalized for depression, according to the Glamour story.

Bass then went on to further her education and was hired by Paulding County High School in Dallas, Ga., in 2003. Shortly after the beginning of the school year, Bass told her family, co-workers and school officials that a mammogram had revealed that she was suffering from stage II ductal carcinoma. Because of their daughter’s ravaged appearance and “unconditional parental love,” Ruddy writes that the Basses believed their daughter’s story.

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