Münchausen by internet: the sickness bloggers who fake it online

How would you fake cancer? Shave your head? Pluck your eyebrows? Install a chemo port into your neck? These days you don’t need to. Belle Gibson’s story is a masterclass on faking cancer in the modern age. She fooled Apple, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Penguin. She fooled the hundreds of thousands who bought her app, read her blog and believed that her story could be their story.

Diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 20, Gibson had four months to live. She blogged her journey of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, treatments she shunned after eight weeks. Instead, she cut gluten and dairy and turned to oxygen therapy, craniosacral treatments and colonic irrigation. Against all odds, she made it. Her followers were inspired. If Belle could make it, maybe they could too.

Gibson launched The Whole Pantry app in 2013, filled with healthy living tips and recipes. She promised a third of proceeds from the 300,000 downloads ($3.79 per download) to charity. Elle named her “The Most Inspiring Woman You’ve Met This Year”, Cosmopolitan awarded her a “Fun, Fearless Female award” and Penguin published her cookbook. Apple pre-installed her app on Apple Watch and flew her to its Silicon Valley launch.

Then cancer re-emerged, and Gibson announced on Instagram: “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 [sic] cancer. One is secondary and the other is primary. I have cancer in my blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver. I am hurting.”

Last week, Gibson admitted it was all a lie…

  • WalterBannon

    what an evil cun…

    • Justin St.Denis

      Took the word right outta my mind!

      • Frau Katze

        Very bizarre, and very evil too.

  • Rosenmops

    There are a lot of crazy people out there.

    • Frau Katze

      Read the whole article. Half of them are psychopaths (especially if they’re benefitting financially as this woman did). Someone who knew her personally emailed Elle and Cosmopolitan and warned them she was a compulsive liar. The magazines ignored the warning.

      There’s a blog on hoaxes like this and people are stunned and in disbelief when they find out it’s fake.

  • dukestreet

    Another wonderful example of the lazy journalism practiced today. None of the publishers bothered to verify anything. We are seeing a lot of this these days.

    Münchausen by proxy is when you do those nasty things to your kid and make them sick so that you can get attention as the poor mother of a sick child. Meanwhile the child suffers terribly while the mother does really horrible stuff to make her kid sick enough to be admitted to hospitals. As far as I’m concerned all these disorders are degrees of psychopathy. At the suffering is virtual,unless you are one of the poor people who are taken in abd try her methods of healing cancer.

    There are some reputable doctors and clinics which use nutrition along with other methods to successfully fight cancer. I have a friend who has been being treated in New York. Princess Margret essentially told her to go home and prepare to die. She’s doing really well but they treat her cancer as a chronic illness. She’s doing much better than she was when she was diagnosed