SOCIAL media star Belle Gibson, whose claim to have survived terminal brain cancer helped launch a mini-empire, has reportedly admitted she may not have been suffering multiple, life-threatening cancers after all.
Ms Gibson founded a company that launched The Whole Pantry wellness app, which has been downloaded 300,000 times, as well as publishing a book which will next month be launched in the US and Britain.
The Whole Pantry yesterday blamed poor accounting after a report claimed it the company had solicited donations from followers but failed to pass them on to nominated charities. TWP denies the allegations, referring to Ms Gibson is a “former Managing Director” of the company.
Adding to the confusion, The Australian this morning reports Ms Gibson admitted her previous claims that she had cancer of the liver, uterus, spleen and blood was based on “misdiagnosis”.
She would not name the doctor involved.
“It’s hard to admit that you’re wrong,” she was quoted as saying, adding she felt, “confused, bordering on humiliated”.
Publisher Penguin Random House will investigate the medical claims of author Belle Gibson, after it was revealed the well-known cancer survivor may not have had cancer after all.
Ms Gibson had claimed she suffered from multiple cancers but is now quoted in The Australian newspaper as saying she had a “misdiagnosis”.
The success of Gibson’s book, The Whole Pantry, and her smartphone application has been largely dependent on her high-profile as a cancer survivor, which made her an advocate for natural therapies.
Penguin Random House said it did not have proof Ms Gibson had cancer prior to publishing the book and it was concerned about the questions now being raised.
The news comes on top of allegations promised donations to charities have not been paid by the company she founded, The Whole Pantry.
In a statement published on the company’s Facebook page, The Whole Pantry admitted cash flow problems.
“All remaining promised donations and support will be honoured as soon as the finances are in order,” it said.
But neither Ms Gibson nor The Whole Pantry are registered charity fundraisers, and Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) said all organisations raising funds for charity must be registered.
Doubt has been cast over Melbourne social media entrepreneur Belle Gibson’s “inspirational” story of cancer survival, as close friends and doctors question her illness and her publisher admits never checking the story.
It comes as Victoria’s consumer watchdog launches an inquiry into fundraising activities run by Ms Gibson who withheld thousands of dollars in charity proceeds.
Fairfax Media on Monday revealed The Whole Pantry founder failed to hand over proceeds solicited in the name of five charities and had grossly overstated the company’s total donations to different causes.
Now, five people in Ms Gibson’s inner circle – each acknowledged in her new book – have revealed their concerns about the app developer’s life story and cancer claims.
Fairfax Media understands some friends held an “intervention” at Ms Gibson’s beachside apartment in Elwood last last year, questioning her about her illness. “She admitted her diagnosis was questionable,” a former friend said.
“I asked her when she got her diagnosis, she said she didn’t know. I asked her who gave her the diagnosis, she said Dr Phil. I asked if Dr Phil had a last name she didn’t know, he disappeared. I asked her where she saw Dr Phil, she said he came and picked [her] up from [her] house.”