Friends close to the young mother behind The Whole Pantry app have said Belle Gibson may have fled overseas to avoid confronting claims her remarkable cancer survival story is not accurate.
Doubts over Ms Gibson’s cancer survival story surfaced after it was revealed she failed to donate up to $300,000 in profits from her successful health and lifestyle app to charity.
The young mother shot to social media stardom after she created The Whole Pantry following her terminal brain cancer diagnosis. Ms Gibson shunned traditional medical treatment for a natural and holistic approach, and has a huge online following.
Ms Gibson told her social media followers in the middle of last year her cancer had spread to her liver, blood, uterus and spleen, and she did not expect to survive.
But after the charity claims emerged this week, she told News Corp her cancer diagnosis was incorrect and she now felt ‘humiliated’.
Since then friends have come forward saying they had long held suspicions about holes in Ms Gibson’s story for a long time, and revealed whenever they tried to raise it with her they were shut down.
‘I was told last night that she booked a business class flight to the US and that’s why she hasn’t been responding. She’s been on a plane for the last 20 hours,’ a friend, who did not wish to be named, told the Daily Mail Australia.
The same friend, a fellow social media personality with a large online following, said she first met Ms Gibson at a gala in early 2014 and the pair clicked.
But they had held suspicions in recent months, like many in the same friendship group, that the young entrepreneur may have been dishonest with them.
The publisher of a recipe book has admitted to never fact-checking claims made by the author that she survived terminal brain cancer through shunning conventional medical treatment, despite her story being used to market the book.
Belle Gibson launched a recipe and lifestyle app called The Whole Pantry off the back of her story that she had treated her terminal brain cancer through diet and lifestyle alone.
Last year she also launched her debut book in Australia, which is soon to be released overseas and contains recipes and lifestyle tips.
Her story of “treating” cancer without conventional medical treatment was used to market the book, which describes how Gibson “began a journey of self-education that resulted in her getting back to basics, as she set out to heal herself through nutrition and lifestyle changes”.
A spokesperson for the publisher told the Daily Mail that no proof of her illnesses was sought prior to publishing.
“We did not feel this was necessary as The Whole Pantry is a collection of food recipes, which Penguin has published in good faith,” she said.
“We are concerned about the questions raised in recent days – we’ll discuss them with Belle as ultimately only she can answer the questions.”
On Wednesday a Penguin spokeswoman told Guardian Australia: “We have no further comment to make at this time.”
##police have visited the Melbourne home of healthy cooking app founder Belle Gibson amid reports her claims about having brain cancer could be false.
Two Victoria Police officers visited Gibson’s beachside apartment in #elwood home last night and spent around ten minutes inside before leaving, the Herald Sun reports.
The officers were let into the home by Gibson’s partner, who said the Whole Pantry app creator was not at home at the time.
He declined to comment on the recently published claims about Gibson’s brain cancer only saying that she had spoken to other media outlets but felt they had “misrepresented” her.
Gibson shot to fame after she established a “wellness” empire on the back of claims that she had used a healthy diet to survive a brain tumour for five years without treatment.
Yesterday the publisher of her cook book revealed that they had never investigated her claims about having cancer.
A former friend of Gibson said they had attended an “intervention” at the author’s Elwood home last year after growing suspicions about her life story and cancer claims, Fairfax Media reports.
The revelations follow news that $300,000 in profits promised by Ms Gibson to be paid to a charity was never received.
Social media well-being entrepreneur and blogger Belle Gibson has indicated her cancer diagnosis may have been a mistake, following a series of discoveries casting doubt on the veracity of her claims, and the revelations that she may have been misappropriating funds she claimed were going to charity.
Gibson launched an Instagram blog in 2009, claiming to be a young mum who had moved to Melbourne after a terminal brain cancer diagnosis. At the time, she explained she had been told she had four months to live.
‘Healing Belle’ quickly gained a large following and started chronicling her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. After just two months of treatment, she announced she was abandoning conventional medicine to focus on natural health and wellness remedies.
Over the six years since, she has repeatedly claimed these natural remedies cured her of her aggressive “stage two” brain cancer, as well as several other cancers she said she had been diagnosed with over the years.
She said she was 20 at the time of her initial diagnosis, but information provided to ASIC shows she was only 17 in 2009.
Last year, Gibson announced she had been diagnosed with cancers of the liver, uterus, spleen and blood. Since an investigation by The Australian cast doubt on the truth of her claims about her illness, she has announced it possible that those four cancers were a “misdiagnosis”.