Doubt cast over health and wellness advocate Belle Gibson's cancer claims

Doubt has been cast over the validity of wellness and natural healing advocate and blogger Belle Gibson's claims she survived cancer.

Ms Gibson, 23, 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 recipe book, The Whole Pantry, and her health and wellness Instagram blog, Healing Belle, which has almost 200,000 followers, has been largely driven by her 'inspirational' cancer survival story.

The social media entrepreneur claimed she survived terminal brain cancer and various other life-threatening cancers over the years by abandoning conventional treatments and opting for natural health and wellness remedies.

She launched her Instagram blog in 2013, introducing herself as a young mother who had moved from Perth to Melbourne in mid-2009 to seek medical treatment for a 'malignant, terminal form of brain cancer'.

Health and wellness blogger Belle Gibson pictured her with recipe book, The Whole Pantry, which features 'cancer combating' recipes. Photo: Instagram
Health and wellness blogger Belle Gibson pictured her with recipe book, The Whole Pantry, which features 'cancer combating' recipes. Photo: Instagram

She quickly developed a global band of social media followers as she documented her cancer journey, and repeatedly claimed alternative remedies had cured her of the insidious disease.

Fairfax reports Penguin Publishing did not have proof of Ms Gibson's condition or treatment before it published The Whole Pantry in 'good faith'.

The book promotes several recipes that Ms Gibson claims helped her overcome cancer.

A spokeswoman said the publishing house was concerned about questions now being raised about her life story and cancer claims.

The news comes on top of allegations promised donations to charities have not been paid by the company Ms Gibson founded, The Whole Pantry.

In a statement published on the company's Facebook page, The Whole Pantry, which now refers to Ms Gibson as "a previous managing director", said "cash flow problems" and "unforeseen delays" had hampered attempts to make donations.

"TWP's new Business Management and Accounts team are working through the workload of bringing the accounts and business up to date and all charities have been openly communicated with and are aware of our intentions to uphold this financial support when the necessary keepings of the business are finalised," the statement read.

"This is an issue which will be resolved with added business support.

"In summary I would like to strongly reiterate that in addition to thousands of dollars already donated or gifted to worthy causes, published and otherwise, all remaining promised donations and support will be honoured as soon as the finances are in order, something which has been privately communicated over with the remaining published organisations."

Doubt has been cast on the veracity of health and wellness blogger Belle Gibson's cancer claims. Photo: Instagram
Doubt has been cast on the veracity of health and wellness blogger Belle Gibson's cancer claims. Photo: Instagram

The ABC reports 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.

Consumer Affairs Victoria said it was questioning Ms Gibson about any fundraising appeals and donations made to charities.

"Once we ascertain the facts, CAV will be able to make an assessment of the situation and determine whether any further action is appropriate," a spokeswoman told the ABC.

NewsCorp claims two Victoria Police officers visited Ms Gibson's Elwood home last night amid the revelations and doubt on the veracity of her claims.

It is understood Ms Gibson was not at home at the time. NewsCorp reports her partner told officers Ms Gibson had spoken to other media outlets but had felt "misrepresented" by them.

It comes amid reports the social media entrepreneur appears to be erasing stories about her cancer survival from the internet.

The Australian reported that friends had doubted her claims as far back as 2009.

One friend recalled Ms Gibson revealing she had an aggressive brain tumour and had just four months to live - a claim widely disbelieved by her inner-circle of friends because she never appeared to be ill.

"It upset a lot of people, to be honest. At the time she was claiming she had all these illnesses, a couple of our friends had actually passed away from brain cancer," the friend alleged.

According to reports, the group confronted Ms Gibson demanding documentary evidence of her various cancers, which they say she could not provide.

In July last year, the 23-year-old claimed she had cancer of the liver, spleen, blood and uterus, but according to a report in the Australian, the 23-year-old now says it is possible the diagnosis may have been a mistake.

Ms Gibson was also asked to provide the name of her doctors and documentary evidence of her illness by The Australian, but declined.

Morning news break – March 11

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