Mother, 44, says she ditched chemotherapy for lymphoma because of Instagram scammer Belle Gibson


A mother who ditched her gruelling chemotherapy because of notorious Instagram scammer Belle Gibson says she felt ‘betrayed’ after discovering the influencer had lied about having cancer. 

Kylie Willey, 44, from Melbourne, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013, and stopped her intensive chemotherapy treatment after discovering Gibson on social media.  

Gibson was a social media influencer and ‘clean eating’ advocate, who after cultivating a host of loyal followers claimed that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

She claimed that her condition had been cured by simply eating healthy food, but in 2015 it was discovered that Gibson had been deceiving her followers about having cancer. 

Personal trainer Kylie appeared on BBC Three documentary, Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con, which explores the downfall of one of Instagram’s first ‘super influencers’, where she admitted she felt like an ‘idiot’ for trusting Gibson. 

Kylie Willey, 44, from Melbourne, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013, and stopped her intensive chemotherapy treatment after discovering Belle Gibson on social media

Gibson was a social media influencer and 'clean eating' advocate, who after cultivating a host of loyal followers claimed that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer

She claimed that her condition had been cured by simply eating healthy food, but in 2015 it was discovered that Gibson had been deceiving her followers about having cancer

Gibson was a social media influencer and ‘clean eating’ advocate, who after cultivating a host of loyal followers claimed that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer 

‘I felt betrayed and a little bit let down by her, and then it was the absolutely mind blowing. Why would you do that? Why would you pretend to have cancer? I felt it made me look like an idiot.’ 

At the age of 23, wellness blogger Gibson had accumulated more than 300,000 followers worldwide after claiming that her inoperable brain cancer had been ‘cured’ through natural remedies.   

Soon after launching her Instagram account, The Whole Pantry, Gibson had created her own app, had written her own cook book, which reportedly earned her in excess of $1million. 

Kylie stumbled onto Belle’s Instagram page  when she was undergoing daily chemotherapy, losing her hair, and was set to undergo her 18th painful lumbar puncture. 

She claimed that her condition had been cured by simply eating healthy food, but in 2015 it was discovered that Gibson had been deceiving her followers about having cancer. Gibson is pictured leaving court in 2019

She claimed that her condition had been cured by simply eating healthy food, but in 2015 it was discovered that Gibson had been deceiving her followers about having cancer. Gibson is pictured leaving court in 2019

‘I was desperate, my life had totally changed and she appeared to be doing everything right and I felt like I was doing everything’, said Kylie.

I was sucked into this process that wasn’t working for me so felt like I needed to give this a go to see if it worked. 

‘She was saying that was she was doing was curing her cancer, making it better and I had her there to look at’. 

The mother even reached out to Belle directly on Instagram to send her good wishes: ‘I felt like we were opening the lines of communication and would chat more about my journey and her journey and I was pretty chuffed with the fact she replied to my message. I wanted to be her friend.’  

Gibson’s narrative of deceit quickly unravelled when an Australian publication revealed that the influencer had not been donating her profits to charity, as she had led her followers to believe.  

Soon after launching her Instagram account, The Whole Pantry, Gibson had created her own app, had written her own cook book. Belle is pictured after receiving an award in 2014

Soon after launching her Instagram account, The Whole Pantry, Gibson had created her own app, had written her own cook book. Belle is pictured after receiving an award in 2014 

In March 2015, media investigations revealed that she had also fabricated her stories of cancer, as well as lying about several other details of her life and finances.   

Groups were set up online of people who had been duped by Gibson, and Kylie said that many people ‘blamed her’ for losing their loved ones following unconventional treatments. 

‘It was driven by a lot of people whose family had gone through cancer whether it be directly or indirectly and people who had lost people because they didn’t go through conventional treatments,’ Kylie said. 

‘So they were really angry, they were angry about the influence she had on people, they blamed her. A lot of people blamed her.’ 

Online communities of angry social media users began trawling through Gibson’s past and soon discovered she had not always been living the healthy lifestyle she was selling.

Gibson's narrative of deceit quickly unravelled when an Australian publication revealed that the influencer had not been donating her profits to charity. Gibson is pictured in 2016

Gibson’s narrative of deceit quickly unravelled when an Australian publication revealed that the influencer had not been donating her profits to charity. Gibson is pictured in 2016 

Kylie stumbled onto Belle's Instagram page when she was undergoing daily chemotherapy, losing her hair, and was set to undergo her 18th painful lumbar puncture

Kylie stumbled onto Belle’s Instagram page when she was undergoing daily chemotherapy, losing her hair, and was set to undergo her 18th painful lumbar puncture

‘A lot of images from her past were contradictory to the image that she was selling, it was images of her drinking or smoking and not living that amazing healthy lifestyle she promoted. 

‘If only we had done that before giving her the platform to become the person she was.’ 

Kylie added of the scammer: ‘She’s definitely not well, a well person doesn’t do what she’s done and believe in her own lies, she thinks we’re all stupid. 

‘That’s what annoys me about her, she is the type of person that thinks she’s smarter than the rest of us and we’re all fools. We were for a little bit, and she can do and say whatever she likes.’  

Gibson, pictured before being found guilty of five breaches of consumer law, was fined $410,000 (£240,000) by the Australian government in September 2017

Gibson, pictured before being found guilty of five breaches of consumer law, was fined $410,000 (£240,000) by the Australian government in September 2017 

Gibson was fined $410,000 (£240,000) by the Australian government in September 2017 after being found guilty of five breaches of consumer law.

Gibson told the court at the time that she wasn’t ‘in a position to pay a $410,000 fine at this time’.

Carl Moller, the barrister for Consumer Affairs Victoria, told Gibson she had spent $91,000 over a two-year period. 

He told the court she had claimed to have earned just $35,000 in that time. Gibson replied: ‘I don’t accept that’.

The court heard Gibson had travelled to Bali and Africa during those two years.

In May this year her home was raided by Australian authorities to try to recoup her unpaid fines, now owing $500,000 (£270,000) in fines, penalties and interest. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk