"I felt so betrayed." Kylie was undergoing chemotherapy when she turned to Belle Gibson.


As Kylie Willey struggled in hospital with the impact of near-daily chemotherapy, she scrolled Instagram.

There was one account in particular she was drawn to.

She watched as a woman, who also had cancer, lived her life full of smiles and green smoothies. This woman treated herself naturally without chemotherapy and her life looked great.

“I’m sitting in The Alfred hospital [in Melbourne],” Kylie told Mamamia. “I’d just been maid-of-honour for my best friend’s wedding and I was diagnosed going to her wedding rehearsal.

“I started treatment two or three days after that, so I’d been all glammed up… to straight away losing my hair, to being on steroid treatment that put on 30 kilos. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I didn’t even know who that person was.

“It was absolutely horrendous, and there’s Belle Gibson, sipping coconut water, living this amazing life because she wasn’t going through chemo treatment.”

The 43-year-old Victorian mother-of-three had been diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in April 2014.

Kylie felt a connection to the woman on Instagram: “You’re like ‘I feel what you’re going through, it’s scary and it’s shit’,” she explained.

But this woman – Belle Gibson – was lying.

Just 23 at the time of her undoing, the wellness blogger and mother-of-one had falsely claimed her fabricated brain cancer was cured through alternative therapies. She’d also lied to consumers about donating to charities from the sales of her The Whole Pantry app.

Belle Gibson with her son and cookbook, The Whole Pantry.

After discovering Belle Gibson, Kylie would check her Instagram and read her blog daily. Comparing their different scenarios - Kylie, sick in a hospital bed and Belle, living it up on the beach - she couldn't help but ask: Why was she doing this? Was there another way?

Kylie approached her medical staff. She'd had enough.

And Kylie nearly gave up on chemotherapy - a decision that almost certainly would have killed her.

"I remember speaking to the doctor and one nurse in particular, who had been taking care of me, she was the one who said 'You're not going to survive this cancer if you don't have chemo. You can go down this alternative treatment but I'd be nursing you in palliative care'."

Kylie remembered exactly where she was when she learned of the lies. She felt betrayed, angry, pissed off.


She still does.

"I'm not normally one that would become so passionate about something, but I'm so pissed off at her for lying about it and I feel so betrayed," Kylie said.

"The more I learn about her and what she did... It absolutely infuriates me.

"It's the most frustrating thing that she's not being held accountable."

Thankfully, Kylie has been cancer-free since 2016. On one hand, she wants to put this all behind her, but on the other, she wants Belle Gibson to face consequences.

clive rothwell belle gibson
Belle Gibson arrives at court on Tuesday, May 14.

In September 2017, Gibson was handed a $410,000 fine by the Federal Court for duping her Australian consumers out of half a million dollars from the sales of her The Whole Pantry wellness app. She had promised to donate the proceeds to multiple charities.

After facing several warnings for not paying the fine for breaches of consumer laws, Gibson, now 27, was ordered to appear in the Federal Court on Tuesday to explain herself.

After a bizarre appearance (which you can read more about here) Belle Gibson's hearing was adjourned until June 6.

Kylie thinks there needs to be tougher consequences. Gibson has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the impact of her actions, she said.

"I think she needs to go to jail. She clearly has no intentions of paying the fines... The only alternative is to put her in jail so she can reflect on what it is that she's done.

"It wasn't just my life that she could have changed, there's so many people. The people that did follow her advice and did lose their battle with cancer, she doesn't understand the responsibility that she has making the claims that she did.

"I don't know how she lives with herself."

Given this all, it was surprising to hear that Kylie would still like to talk to Belle Gibson.

"I'd love to have a conversation with her, for her to clear up why she did what she did or how she thought that it was okay saying what she said.

"I think I'd walk away from it extremely frustrated like everybody else that's tried to have a conversation with her," she said.

But she'd try anyway.