I want my money back. Not for me, and not because it’s a lot of money but for so many more reasons…
A few months ago, over my usual morning coffee, I read a story in the paper about “Melbourne mum” who – despite some immense challenges – was seemingly kicking ass in the life department.
Only 25-years-old, Belle Gibson, was living with inoperable cancer but quite simply refused to accept her diagnosis or be condemned to the horrific life that usually faces those with terminal illness.
Faced with what would bring most of us to our knees, Gibson had instead signed a deal with Apple that would see the health and wellness app she created ‘The Whole Pantry’ featured on the Apple watch.
I bought Belle Gibson’s app. I paid $3.49 for it. I was skeptical about Gibson’s claims that she had ‘cured’ her cancer by ‘getting back to basics’ with healthy eating but I was impressed by her success and what she’d achieved.
But now, Belle Gibson? I’d like my money back please.
After reading your quotes in the Australian Women’s Weekly – admitting that not only were your claims to have ‘cured’ your cancer bullshit but that it never actually existed – I want that $3.49 returned.
$3.49 is not a lot of money. It’s the cost of cappuccino or a two-hour public transport journey, it’s a legal download of a TV show or the newspaper on a Saturday.
The loss of $3.49 is not going to hurt me or my lifestyle.
But I don’t want the money back because I need it. I want it back because of what it represents.
I want the $3.49 back because for the thousands of people who paid for your product, believing they too could cure their illnesses and ailments with wholefoods and positive thinking. Those people deserve better.
I want the $3.49 back for the cancer sufferers who were tricked into thinking that miracles could happen and who were given painful false hope.
I want the $3.49 back because while you were jetting around the world, meeting with Apple executives and allegedly flying first class, there were people back home choosing your path instead of traditional medicine. People who may have since died.
I want that money back because it should go to people who cannot afford the cancer treatment they need. I want that money back because it should go towards finding an actual cure to the disease that steals far too many family and friends.
Belle, I want the money back for those who are suffering; those who think your deception cheapens the horrific reality of their personal experience with this disease. People, like the woman who wrote on Facebook: “I don’t believe people do this. As a Cancer sufferer, on my way to being a survivor, the very thought sickens me. I don’t wish my experience on anyone. Not even my worst enemy.”
I want that money back because your publishers at Penguin and your partners at Apple shouldn’t have made a profit from your product, when they failed to properly validate your claims.
I want that money back because that would help vindicate the work of journalists at The Age who, back in March, broke the story that exposed your lies. Journalists, Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano knew that you lied about giving the huge profits you made from your app to charity. They took a risk in writing that, and they were right to do so.
In outing you, they ultimately stopped you from doing more damage.
Finally, I want my money back because in the five pages of copy I read today in The Australian Women’s Weekly, in the dozens and dozens of lines of quotes directly from you, not once was there an apology to the many people who trusted and believed in you.
Belle Gibson, you should have taken responsibility for what you did. You should have shown remorse. You should have acknowledged that in spruiking your crap, some cancer sufferers may have pursued dangerous ineffective methods of treatment and that consequentially, may be sicker now than they would otherwise have been.
You did that, Belle. Their health, their pain, their disappointment – that’s on you.
Belle, that $3.49 hurt a lot of people. And I want it back.