Belle Gibson lied about having cancer and, rather than being in danger herself, has possibly put the lives of others in deadly peril.
When the rumours started swelling about Belle Gibson and her supposed cancer diagnosis, part of me wanted to believe her version of events. I didn’t want to believe that someone could lie about having cancer and profit personally from the lie. The thought of that is just abhorrent.
When everyone came out swinging at the publisher of her book The Whole Pantry while we were waiting for confirmation of Belle’s story, I ask this: who wants to be the douchebag that questions a cancer diagnosis? I certainly wouldn’t want to because I like to believe in the goodness of people and the thought of someone lying about this is just beyond belief.
But the facts were all pointing towards the unthinkable and, in this case, the facts didn’t lie. What person who has cancer and is accused of lying about their diagnosis would stay silent? If she genuinely had cancer, wouldn’t she be screaming from the rooftops that she had cancer and none of it was a lie?
Instead, she retreated away from the public eye, deleted posts on her social media accounts and made what was left private. And now, in an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly (which was unpaid), the truth has come out.
Speaking in the new issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, the 23-year-old admits that her claims to be suffering from cancer were not real.
“No. None of it’s true,” she confessed.
“I don’t want forgiveness,” she said. “I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, ‘Okay, she’s human.’”
This made me angry. How dare she do what she has done and expect people to shrug and say she’s only human? Most lies don’t hurt anyone, but this one could have and may have. In this day and age, having a voice and presence on the internet is not difficult. Standing out is. And what’s more intriguing than someone who cured themselves of a terminal brain tumour with nothing but a change in diet?
I can understand why people fall for these stories and why they fell for Belle’s. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are not walks in the park. I semi-frequently have nightmares about having chemotherapy because it is literal poison being pumped through your body with terrible side effects.
However, if I were to receive a cancer diagnosis tomorrow, I would say yes to the chemo, the surgery, whatever they could possibly do to help me. Why? Because I want the best possible chance of survival and I personally believe that is through conventional medicine that has been tried, tested, researched and peer reviewed. Alternative therapies are not subject to this same scrutiny.
I don’t have a medical degree and I’m not trained in nutrition or anything else, so this is purely my opinion. I think most, if not all, of us can agree that eating less processed foods and trying to focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein, fibre and everything else is a good thing. I would never say to someone that it’s silly of them to change their diet for health reasons because that’s ridiculous. However when it is ‘preached’ that a change in diet will cure you of cancer or other illnesses, it’s not just ridiculous, it’s downright negligent.
Even after admitting to the lie, unfortunately Belle doesn’t seem to fully comprehend just how wrong what she has done is. She has been playing the victim and saying that a troubled childhood is to blame. If she did in fact have a troubled childhood, then I am very sorry she had to experience that, but it in no way excuses her actions.
“In the last two years I have worked every single day living and raising up an online community of people who supported each other … I understand the confusion and the suspicion, but I also know that people need to draw a line in the sand where they still treat someone with some level of respect or humility — and I have not been receiving that.”
There is so much I could say about Belle but I won’t because at the end of the day, she is a person with feelings and I’m not a fan of the personal attack. But when you lie to people the way she has, when you prey on the scared, when you make a profit based on lies, you forgo the respect of others, it’s that simple. And her lies are affecting more than just the people who fell for her story, Belle’s actions are calling into question the reputation of bloggers, health or otherwise. I don’t think it’s fair to let the actions of one speak for many because they don’t. Please don’t let your opinion of bloggers be changed because of Belle.
It’s clear that Belle is going through something (possibly suffering from Munchausen syndrome) and I hope she is getting the help she needs. But for now, I sit here fuming that somebody would take advantage of people the way that Belle has.
Author’s note: Many people are understandably upset by Belle’s lies and I would love to hear people’s thoughts and opinions, however personal attacks against Belle will not be tolerated.