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Acclaimed Australian Wellness Blogger Says She Made Up Cancer Claims

Belle Gibson is an Australian blogger who said she cured her terminal brain cancer solely through diet and lifestyle, spawning a wellness empire, an award-winning app, a recipe book and a large online following. Trouble is, Gibson now says she made it all up.

"None of it's true," she told the Australian Women's Weekly in an interview that is to be published Thursday.

Questions about Gibson were raised last month when Fairfax Media, an Australian media group, reported that while she said she raised money for five charities, they had no record of receiving the donations. Following that revelation, she acknowledged in an interview with The Australian newspaper that some of her cancer claims were as a result of a misdiagnosis.

Still, at the time she insisted her claim of curing her malignant brain tumor without conventional treatment was true. But the newspaper found that the blogger had made several contradictory claims about her health.

Those revelations led her friends — some of whom had been thanked in her recipe book — to raise doubts over her health claims. Her Australian publisher withdrew her cookbook from shelves and her popular app is no longer available for sale, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Gibson, in the Australian Women's Weekly, did not say why she made up her illness.

"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 theorize 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."

It's a rapid fall from grace for a figure who as recently as last November was being hailed in the Australian media as inspirational. News Ltd., which published excerpts of the interview, said the controversy has hurt the blogger financially. It says:

"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."

But Gibson says in the interview that she doesn't want forgiveness.

"I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do," she said. "Above anything, I would like people to say, 'Okay, she's human. She's obviously had a big life. She's respectfully come to the table and said what she's needed to say, and now it's time for her to grow and heal.'"

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Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.