Not long ago, Jessica Ainscough died from lack of treatment for her cancer. For the past few years, she had been promoting various ‘alternative’ cancer treatments, which, she claimed, would cure the cancer she had as well as others. It didn’t, and, predictably, she died. However, it’s hard not to have some sympathy for her. After all, she clearly believed the garbage she was spouting, because she had enough faith in it to let it kill her.
What would be truly revolting would be if someone had gone around making similar claims and raking in money for it, but lied about having cancer the whole time.
Well, that just happened.
Belle Gibson: ‘No, None of it is true’
DISGRACED wellness blogger Belle Gibson has admitted she deceived her followers, friends and family about having cancer and curing her illness with healthy eating and natural therapies.
The 23-year-old was accused of fabricating her terminal brain cancer and making a profit from her story via her wellness app, The Whole Pantry.
Last month it was revealed Gibson failed to donate $300,000 from the sales of her app to charity as promised and her friends had started to question the legitimacy of her diagnosis. Earlier this month, Victoria Police said they would not pursue criminal charges against Gibson.
Speaking out about the controversy in an exclusive interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, Gibson was asked outright if she has, or has ever had cancer.
“No. None of it’s true,” she confessed.
“I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality. I have lived it and I’m not really there yet,” she said.
The Weekly speculates that Gibson suffers from a psychological condition called factitious disorder or Munchausen syndrome (see below for an explainer) — where sufferers feign disease or illness to gain attention.
Gibson fails to explain in detail how and why she lied about her condition.
“I think my life has just got so many complexities around it and within it, that it’s just easier to assume [I’m lying],” she said.
“If I don’t have an answer, then I will sort of theorise it myself and come up with one. I think that’s an easy thing to often revert to if you don’t know what the answer is.”
Gibson believes her “troubled” childhood may have led her to lie about her condition.
The young mother — she has a 4-year-old son called Olivier — claims she was forced to take care of herself from the age of five.
“When I started school, my mum went, ‘My daughter is grown up now’. All of a sudden I was walking to school on my own, making school lunches and cleaning the house every day.
“It was my responsibility to do grocery shopping, do the washing, arrange medical appointments and pick up my brother. I didn’t have any toys.” Gibson is now estranged from her mother and would not provide The Weekly with her first name or contact details.
Gibson is still with her partner Clive Rothwell, who declined to be interviewed by The Weekly. She says Rothwell is “supportive, but obviously very devastated” by her betrayal.
“He’s been very stern, along the lines of, ‘I just want you to acknowledge where you’ve f***ed up and try not to smooth over that,” she said.
The recent controversy has put Gibson in a difficult financial position. Penguin Australia has stopped supplying her book and Apple have dropped her app.
She has returned her rental car and will soon move out of her beachside home. Accountants have been instructed to give any leftover funds to the charities Gibson pledged money to.
Gibson says the public backlash against her has been “horrible”.
“In the last two years I have worked every single day living and raising up an online community of people who supported each other … I understand the confusion and the suspicion, but I also know that people need to draw a line in the sand where they still treat someone with some level of respect or humility — and I have not been receiving that.”