Today’s blog post is about the internet’s topic du jour – Belle Gibson.
Today’s blog post is about the internet’s topic du jour – Belle Gibson. The “The Whole Pantry” health blogger who claimed she healed her brain cancer with nothing more than a clean diet. She quickly rose to “internet” fame (NB: That’s the equivalent to being rich with monopoly money), but as quickly as this happened she has been outed as a fraud by old friends, acquaintances and has finally spoken publicly, confessing to The Australian Women’s Weekly that no, none of it’s true. She has led countless cancer suffers, their hopeful families and health enthusiasts astray over the past three years and has left everyone fuming – me inclusive – so I felt compelled to tell you my thoughts.
I tend to shy away from the bandwagon when someone is being scrutinized in the media. I try to be empathetic and think it sucks for them to have to incur the wrath of the public on such a visible platform. It would be like being bullied in primary school, only the primary school is the entire world. Word spreads like wildfire and people on the internet are not forgiving and they do not forget.
Belle Gibson has claimed to have suffered an extraordinary amount of varied, incredibly serious, health issues. These range from brain cancer to suffering a stroke at age 20, open heart surgery – each, however, had absolutely no medical backing. She claims that a “Dr Phil” misdiagnosed her. I wonder if she also took advice from Drs Who, Dre and Seuss. She also claims to have died briefly on an operating table. It is no surprise she suckered everyone in, because that adds up to some pretty serious issue for one young lady to go through, and you’d have to be somewhat heartless not to be moved by her story.
When I first heard of Belle’s deceit I was shocked, which gave way anger – anger on so many levels. Belle was an inspirational figure and a voice with over 200,000 vulnerable people / social media followers. She had a responsibility to each one of those 200,000 people as does every blogger, influencer, media personality. Your online space is your escape from your real life, and – as much as is possible – you should feel safe there – not exploited or misguided. It is so disgusting that she took advantage of cancer patients worldwide who looked up to her and used her experiences, knowledge and her apparent wellness as a way to cling to the faintest hope of recovery.
I have lost my grandmother to cancer, and in recent years I have lost school friends. On top of that, my friends and my husband have lost many family members and friends to cancer. I don’t think we’re unique in this regard and I imagine everyone knows someone who has felt the scourge of cancer. This is where my anger stemmed. It makes me so angry Belle Gibson could take one of the most horrible diseases in the world and be so flippant with it. Anyone with cancer would do anything to not be going through it, so to take what is a tragedy and exploit it for personal gain is absolutely appalling. On top of lying about her health she also helped perpetuate the misguided belief that the pharmaceutical industry focuses on sickness rather than health – which I have to expel as being utterly irresponsible. I have lost count of the amount of times JD and I have both spoken about this, with the same conclusion each time:
Medical researchers generally don’t pursue that particular field with the goal of becoming rich and famous. If, however, a researcher were to discover the cure for cancer, he’d be considered not just one the greatest scientists of all time, but one the greatest people to have ever lived.
I truly believe the medical industry makes a concerted effort to keep people healthy and to get people well. Doctors and nurses generally don’t get into medicine with the goal of keeping people ill. You may not believe in this yourself, but if you do, be very careful who you preach this to. This is the real danger of the likes of Belle Gibson. Typically, people will remember a fact – regardless of its veracity – as true. And such an ill-informed ethos such as that pushed by Belle creates a culture of fear and distrust.
Belle claims that deserves recognition for coming forward with the truth, which stands in stark contrast to this post on her Facebook page last year.
“With frustration and ache in my heart // my beautiful, game-changing community, it hurts me to find space tonight to let you all know with love and strength that I’ve been diagnosed with a third and forth cancer.
One is secondary and the other is primary.
I have cancer in my blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver. I am hurting.”.
Had the lying gone on so long she had started to believe in it herself? Those who plan on coming clean tend not to further muddy the waters with additional, unnecessary lies and her claims of being forthright are kinda dampened by the fact that she’d been thoroughly outed by her former friends, employees, the media etc. It’s also kinda difficult to keep the lie alive when it’s so demonstrably false – it’s going to be tough convincing you that I loaded the dishwasher when you come home to a sink full of dirty dishes, right? But she did the right thing when confronted with the truth. She owned up to be a liar and a fraud… by claiming that Maths is hard, leaving the country, avoiding the media, deleting social media accounts and posts and blaming doctors that don’t exist. If credibility was a marathon, she’d be atop the winner’s podium, having caught a taxi to the finish line and claiming to have run the race on several broken legs.
The other side of the Belle Gibson tangled web of lies is the financial aspect – where she was meant to donate profits to a number of charities, from the 300,000 downloads the app received, but sadly it wasn’t. Some good might have come from a frankly gross situation, but it didn’t; of course only the smallest of fractions was actually given to someone who might deserve it or use it for a reason that wasn’t strictly self-involved.
The sad thing about The Whole Pantry app is, the name will always be tarnished – Belle’s lies aside, her app was a fantastic place to look up recipes, the design was beautiful and it held its own. I truly think that if she had have just worked hard – like the rest of us bloggers – she might have created a loyal, deserved following.
I sincerely hope none of my readers / online family have been affected by Belle Gibson’s reckless attitude. Belle is clearly mentally unwell and needs some professional help and I hope she receives it for her young son’s sake.
What I want you to take away from this post is the knowledge of what Belle Gibson has done and also, don’t always believe what you read online, even if the majority does. Still look into things yourself, build your own understanding and if you are still unsure, talk to a health professional. I know that I would rather take the word from an educated, well informed doctor (read: not an imaginary one), than a lying 23 year old girl (wait – didn’t she say she was 26?) who thinks drinking smoothies will clear up cancer.
What are your thoughts? I want to give you guys a voice, where you normally wouldn’t if you don’t have an online platform – so be sure to comment below if you’d like to share yours. If you liked this post, please share to your friends in case they haven’t yet read about this case – people need to be educated.
Image source: The Whole Pantry