Australian health blogger admits to lying about cancer
An Australian blogger and author who became a hit after claiming she was winning a battle with brain cancer through wholefoods and alternative therapies admitted Thursday she was lying and never had the disease.
Belle Gibson launched her successful The Whole Pantry business in 2013 — billed as the world’s first health, wellness and lifestyle app community — on the back of healing herself naturally.
She also published The Whole Pantry cookbook last year, which publisher Penguin pulled from sale last month when suspicions sparked by the Australian media first arose. It had been due for release soon in the United States and Britain.
Her app had also reportedly been hand-picked by tech giant Apple for its new smartwatch.
Mother-of-one Gibson, 23, has now admitted she fabricated the cancer, when quizzed by the Australian Women’s Weekly.
“No. None of it is true,” she confessed in an interview published Thursday entitled “My lifelong struggle with the truth.”
“I just think (speaking out) was the responsible thing to do. Above anything else, I want people to say ‘okay, she’s human,’”
Reports said she had received hate mail and even death threats since being exposed. She said that the backlash had been “beyond horrible.”
Gibson did not go into detail about her motivations for lying, other than that she had a troubled childhood.
The magazine said accountants were winding up The Whole Pantry business.
Gibson’s lie began unraveling when it emerged last month that she failed to donate AU$300,000 (US$232,000) in profits from the sales of her book to charity as promised and friends started to question her diagnosis via the media.
Todd Harper, the chief of local charity Cancer Council Victoria, urged patients to be wary of cure claims that sounded too good to be true.
“We are very concerned about anyone who makes unproven scientifically flawed claims about cancer treatments because the risk is that cancer patients will take them seriously,” he said, without commenting specifically on Gibson.
He added that patients should consult their doctor before trying alternative or complementary treatments, including extreme diets.