Here, Kylie Willey, 41, tells the story in her own words.
I could barely lift my head. My whole body ached and I felt nauseous. ‘If the cancer doesn’t kill me, then I’m sure chemo will,’ I groaned to my husband Chris, 38.
Two months before, in April 2014, I’d been diagnosed with Grade-3b T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. Spreading from my lymph nodes, I had several tumours from my neck down to my pelvis. ‘We need to tackle it aggressively to stop it spreading to your brain,’ my doctor said gravely.
Determined to fight it for my boys, Jake, 22, Lachlan, 15, and Sam, 13, I embarked on 18 months of almost daily chemo. But as the drugs took hold of my body, I felt myself fading.‘I never imagined it would be this hard,’ I cried to Chris. Working as a personal trainer, I’d always been fit and healthy. But the treatment had caused my beautiful brown hair to fall out and I’d put on 30 kilos from taking steroids.
Then one day my friend, Suzie, came to see me in hospital. Knowing I was feeling down, she tried to help. ‘Have you seen Belle Gibson on Instagram?’ she asked, pulling out her phone. ‘She’s got a brain tumour.’
Scrolling through Belle’s photos, I was in awe. After being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 20, she’d shunned traditional treatment and instead overhauled her diet and lifestyle to beat the disease.Three years on, with glowing skin and long blonde hair, the mum-of-one looked the picture of health. Belle also had an app, The Whole Pantry, and was releasing a book of the same name, with 25 per cent of all profits going to charity. ‘What an incredible woman,’ I said.
From then, I looked at Belle’s Instagram and read her blog every day. Eating clean and disease-free, she wrote, uploading a photo of a smoothie bowl.Looking at photos of her on the beach, I couldn’t believe how different our lives were. Why am I putting myself through this? I thought, from my hospital bed.
Reading about alternative remedies, I became convinced that chemo was doing me more harm than good. I’ve been a fool, I thought. I’ve been sucked in by a big pharma-ceutical conspiracy. I got my friends and family to bring food made from Belle’s cookbook into hospital. Nourishing myself with smoothies, coconut water and raw salads, I hoped it would cure my cancer like it had Belle’s. Inspired, I felt compelled to write to her.
I’m going through treatment for cancer and I’m so impressed with what you do, I wrote. Amazingly, Belle wrote back. My thoughts and prayers are with you, she said. Her kind words meant so much and I felt like she was my friend.
As my body became weaker, I contracted influenza and pneumonia. ‘You’re being so strong,’ Chris told me, but it didn’t feel like that. Five months into my treatment, I made a decision. ‘I’m going to stop my chemo,’ I told Chris. ‘I’m going to cure my cancer by healing it organically, like Belle.’
Seeing my mind was made up, my supportive hubby joined me for a meeting with my doctors and nurses at The Alfred in Melbourne.‘I’ve had enough,’ I told them. ‘I can’t do it anymore.’
Explaining to them that I’d read about alternative treatments such as eating clean, they listened patiently. ‘It’s completely your choice,’ a nurse told me. ‘But I’ll either be nursing you through chemo or palliative care.’‘Why don’t you give it a few more months,’ suggested Chris. Reluctantly I agreed.
In March 2015, I was still going through treatment when I saw Belle Gibson’s face all over the news. In shock, I read she was suspected of lying about giving proceeds of her book and app to charity. Instead she’d kept the money for herself. She hadn’t even handed over money promised to the family of Joshua Schwarz, a little boy with an inoperable brain tumour.
‘Belle Gibson’s a liar,’ I told Chris in shock.Then I read a headline that turned my blood cold: The Whole Pantry author, app developer admits cancer diagnosis not true. ‘She didn’t even have cancer! How could someone lie about that?’ I cried to Chris. I wanted to message her to tell her how disgusting she was, but she’d deleted all of her social media accounts.
On September 28, at the Federal Court in Melbourne, Belle Gibson, 26, was found guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct and ordered to pay a fine of $410,000. In April, she’d also been ordered to pay $30,000 in prosecution costs. Belle didn’t turn up to any court hearings, proving she’s a coward to the end. Worst of all, she hasn’t even said sorry.
Thankfully, I’ve now been cancer free for two years. I owe my life to the doctors and nurses at The Alfred who saved me. Eating healthily is good for your body, but the only way to cure cancer is through modern medicine. Listening to that cancer faker almost cost me my life.
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