Friends, colleagues and fans of a former Brisbane schoolgirl who claimed to have survived cancer due to a healthy lifestyle are shocked and outraged by accusations she fabricated her story.
Belle Gibson, 23, founded an app called The Whole Pantry, which is marketed as the world’s first health, wellness and lifestyle app community.
Ms Gibson was diagnosed with multiple cancers from 2009 but claimed to have beaten the illness by shunning conventional medicine in favour of a healthy lifestyle.
She has since admitted she may have been misdiagnosed.
If all this about #bellegibson is true I just feel sad for her and for all the vulnerable people who put faith in her. Cancer isn’t a joke.
— emaduncan (@Emmmmmer) March 11, 2015
Friends of the 23-year-old have cast doubt over her claims, and former colleagues at a Brisbane catering company have described her as a “lost soul”.
“She was a bit disturbed and would come out with some really vivid stories,” a former colleague told The Courier-Mail.
Jayme Smith, a mother of two who claims to be a former friend of Ms Gibson’s, told The Daily Mail the reports of Ms Gibson’s misdiagnosis were “shocking”.
“I am just so shocked and I feel betrayed, that we all fell so hard for the illusion that she created,” Ms Smith said.
“It has hit all of us, who I know, (who) also know Belle, like a tonne of bricks.”
Ms Gibson’s app has been downloaded more than 300,000 times but hundreds of former users are now demanding refunds.
“I bought your app. I bought your cookbook,” one Facebook user wrote on The Whole Pantry’s page.
“I rooted for you and felt sad for you when you posted about your cancer spreading. And now I am just appalled. You deserve to pay back every cent.”
Consumer Affairs Victoria is also investigating Ms Gibson’s fundraising efforts amid accusations she withheld significant sums in promised charity donations, Fairfax Media says.
— with AAP