News in 5: Mum faked cancer to hide eating disorder; Royal wedding details; SSM bill passes hurdle.

WARNING: This post contains information about eating disorders and may be distressing for some readers.

1. Claudia La Bella was taking up to 800 laxatives a day when she died. She’d told her family she had terminal cancer.

Claudia La Bella news in 5
Claudia (centre) and her husband John (L). Image via Facebook.

For two years, Adelaide mum Claudia La Bella told her loved ones she was suffering from terminal ovarian cancer, which made her unable to hold down food and lose a dramatic amount of weight.

She also told them she needed to take laxatives as part of her treatment, to flush toxins from the chemotherapy from her body.

It wasn't until she died in 2014, at just 28 years of age and weighing just 35kg, that they learned the truth: Claudia had been hiding an eating disorder.

An inquest into Claudia's death this week revealed the young mum was taking up to 800 laxative tablets a day in the years before her death, ABC reports.

Claudia's husband, John La Bella, told the inquest the pair spent up to $500 a week buying laxatives from their local chemist. He said his wife would never let him attend the appointments she said were for cancer treatment.

"I trusted her, she's an adult, not a child. I took her word," he said.

The inquest also heard that just a fortnight before her death, Claudia was admitted to Royal Adelaide Hospital with severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Scans revealed she had "dozens of partially digested pills" in her stomach, which she told doctors were painkillers. Against doctors orders, Claudia discharged herself from hospital. She died 10 days later.

The inquest heard that at no time during her hospital stay did she mention a cancer diagnosis, but that her death may have been avoided had hospital staff detained her.


The inquest is due to continue for at least four more days.

If you or a loved one is suffering with an eating disorder, Mamamia urges you to contact The Butterfly Foundation. You can also receive crisis support by phoning Lifeline on 13 11 14.

2. Mark your calendars: the date of Meghan and Prince Harry's royal wedding has been announced.

meghan markle prince harry engagement pics
Image via Getty.

Just one day after sharing their engagement news - and sharing details of the ring, the proposal and their relationship - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have revealed when they are going to tie the knot.

Kensington Palace has announced the pair will marry in May at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The American actress, who will become a senior HRH on marrying into the royals, also intends to become a British citizen.

As the couple make preparations for their big day, Markle, a Protestant who went to a Catholic high school, will be both baptised and confirmed, ready for the religious ceremony.

The royal family will pay for the wedding, including the church service, the music, the flowers and the reception, the palace said on Tuesday.

Harry's communications secretary Jason Knauf said Windsor was a "very special place" for Harry, and that he and Markle had spent time there together during their 16-month romance.

He said the couple were delighted to be holding the wedding in the "beautiful grounds of Windsor".

Knauf said the couple, who were grateful for the warm wishes from the public, would be putting their stamp on their wedding day.


"They will be making sure it reflects who they are as a couple," he said.

Kensington Palace also revealed that Harry and Markle will carry out their first official engagement together in Nottingham on Friday.

3. Same-sex marriage is one step closer to legalisation after a bill passed a major hurdle in parliament.

Same-sex marriage is one step closer to becoming legalised in Australia after the bill passed its first major hurdle in the Senate overnight.

For the first time in history, the Senate effectively passed a same-sex marriage bill, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, with every amendment from Coalition senators defeated in debate.

One proposal to allow civil celebrants to refute to perform gay weddings was rejected just after 11pm in a 25 to 38 vote.

Tuesday marked the 23rd time a same-sex marriage bill had been brought to the Parliament, and only the fourth time one had reached a vote.

Senator George Brandis said the bill's passage was an "expiation for past wrongs and a final act of acceptance" for the Australian gay and lesbian community.

"By passing this bill, we are saying to those vulnerable young people: there is nothing wrong with you," he said.

"You are not unusual. You are not abnormal. You are just you.

"There is nothing to be embarrassed about. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to hide.

"You are a normal person and, like every other normal person, you have a need to love."


The bill is expected to pass a final vote in the Senate today.

4. A 20-yo man has been charged with planning a terror attack on New Year's Eve in Melbourne.

Police have been watching Melbourne man Ali Khalif Shire Ali for a long time.

They pounced on Monday, arresting the 20-year-old in a Werribee shopping strip, and a day later he faced Melbourne Magistrates' Court charged with plotting a New Year's Eve shooting at Federation Square, AAP reports.

"The allegations are that he was planning to commit a terrorist act and that he attempted to obtain a gun to do so," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters on Tuesday, before Ali was charged.

The practising Muslim was born in Australia, is an Australian citizen and his parents were from Somalia, Mr Patton added.

Ali was charged with preparing to commit a terrorist attack and collecting documents to facilitate a terrorist attack, and will remain in custody until his next scheduled court appearance in March.

Authorities were keen to stress that no firearm was obtained.

But if the attack had been successful the human cost would have been "catastrophic... horrendous", Mr Patton said.

Since 2014, when the national threat terrorism level was raised to "probable", the AFP has worked with its state and territory partners to thwart 14 plots.

So far, 74 people have been charged as a result of 347 counter-terrorist investigations.

Three men are due to stand trial in March for their alleged terror plot targeting Melbourne's Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and St Paul's Cathedral during Christmas 2016.


"There is no ongoing threat posed in respect to New Year's Eve, Christmas or any other area," Mr Patton said.

But asked if there of the ongoing threat to Australians, Mr Keenan said "it's impossible for us to provide blanket guarantees".

5. Doctors over the age of 70 will soon be required to undergo health checks to "improve patient safety".

Portrait of a handsome male doctor standing with his arms folded

Doctors aged 70 and over will be required to undergo a confidential health check involving cognitive screening as part of crackdown on registered medical practitioners to weed out incompetence and improve patient safety, AAP reports.

The Medical Board of Australia on Tuesday announced the Professional Performance Framework to raise professional standards in Australia.

The assessment and management of substantiated complaints made against medical practitioners will also be strengthened under the new framework.

"We have designed a framework that will justify and strengthen the trust that the Australian community has in their doctors. It is focused on patient safety and will support doctors to provide high quality care throughout their working lives," board chair Joanna Flynn said.

"Nothing is going to change tomorrow for individual doctors. We will be consulting widely and seeking expert advice on many elements of the framework," Dr Flynn said.

Given the strong evidence on age-related risk of poor performance, the Medical Board of Australia said it recognised that addressing the issue to keep patients safe was a "must".

"Doctors tend to retire later than many other professionals and often wish to continue to make important professional contributions as they age," the board's report said.


"Respecting and supporting this, the board believes it is time to also assure their continuing ability to provide safe clinical care by requiring peer review and health checks for doctors aged 70 years and older who provide clinical care to patients."

6. A 25-yo Perth woman disappeared in Canada a week ago. Her friends and family are desperate for answers.

Alison Raspa missing
Alison Raspa. Image via Facebook.

Friends of a 25-year-old Perth woman missing in Canada fear for her safety as police continue their search.

Alison Leanne Raspa was last seen about 11.30pm last Wednesday leaving the Three Below Bar in Whistler and an item belonging to her was later found at Alpha Lake Park, AAP reports.

Whistler Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Whistler Search and Rescue Society have been conducting a thorough search of the park and the shores of the lake.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to Ms Raspa's family.

According to Ms Raspa's Facebook page, she is originally from Canberra, attended Greenwood Senior High School in Perth and moved to Whistler in May.

Friend Kerry Stokes posted on social media, urging anyone with information to contact Ms Raspa's family and police.

"We are all very worried about her and need to know she is safe," Ms Stokes said.

Madeline Plester wrote: "Makes me sick thinking about it... I've been telling myself she ditched her phone to go on a whirlwind midnight adventure to get married in Vegas and is too happy to check in."