Another attractive young woman claims to be curing her cancer with food. Alyx Gorman takes a long hard look at why cancer sufferers are falling for lies.
Belle Gibson has been called a lot of things since she launched her app – The Whole Pantry – in 2013. She has been called a guru, an inspiration and a survivor.
The Whole Pantry is one of the iTunes stores’ most popular nutrition applications. So great is the excitement around it, in 2014 Apple announced that it was one of the select few Apps that would be made available on the first ever Apple Watch. And there’s no doubt that such a deal would be immensely lucrative for the app creator who, in this case, was Belle Gibson.
It is likely that many of those who have downloaded Gibson’s app are not aware of the story behind it. So here it is: in 2009, Gibson was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was given months to live. Chemotherapy wasn’t working, so she decided to try something more natural. She cut gluten, dairy and GMO products from her diet, and as the “months to live” turned into years, this lifestyle change inspired her to create The Whole Pantry.
A print version of The Whole Pantry was also published in early 2014. During publicity tours for the book – published by Penguin – Belle Gibson repeatedly told thousands of hopeful and desperate readers and viewers the tale of how she beat cancer with food.
In 2014, tragedy struck again for Belle Gibson. She announced via Instagram (a platform on which she has 197,000 followers) “With frustration and ache in my heart … it hurts me to find space tonight to let you all know with love and strength that I’ve been diagnosed with a third and forth (sic) cancer.”
Except, it turns out, she didn’t. The Australian have reported today that these secondary and primary cancers in her “blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver,” were in fact, the result of a “misdiagnosis”, by a doctor she refuses to name.
Journalist Richard Guillaitt from The Australian did some investigation into Gibson’s past, and discovered glaring discrepancies in her personal narrative, from the language she used to describe her first diagnosis a “stage two malignant tumour of the brain” (brain tumours are classified in grades, not stages), to her age – she claimed she was 20 when she was diagnosed in 2009, but records show her date of birth is 1991.
These revelations come just days after Fairfax reported that Gibson failed to donate the proceeds of two charity drives she held, in 2013 and 2014.