How Diem Brown is Fighting Her Third Cancer Diagnosis

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September 16, 2014

Fans of MTV’s reality television series, The Challenge, are well acquainted with Diem Brown, who has been a mainstay on the show since 2006. In her debut challenge, she shocked the cast and production team by announcing that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Since then, it has been quite a rollercoaster for her but she has never stopped fighting.

When she first appeared on The Challenge, she started dating her fellow cast member, Chris “C.T.” Tamburello and their relationship lasted more than a year and a half.  Brown has said that he was a major part of her rebuilding her confidence during her remission.  The competed together on The Gauntlet III and were even featured on the documentary show MADE before competing as a team on Battle of the Exes after they broke up (they finished in second place).

Unfortunately, Brown’s ovarian cancer returned in 2012 and, for the second time, she put up a brave fight and underwent chemotherapy treatments until the cancer went into remission several months later. By then, she had already begun competing in her seventh Challenge season, Rivals II.  She later explained that she chose to do it because her doctors had told her that “seeing 2013 was not that likely” so she wanted to live her life while she could. Unbelievably, her team finished in fourth place and it seemed like she had defied the odds.

Last month (August 2014), Brown collapsed on the set of her eighth Challenge competition in Panema. After being airlifted to New York, she made the announcement that doctors had diagnosed her with colon cancer and performed two emergency surgeries. She has now been released from the hospital and friends of the 32-year-old reality television star helped her decorate her walker with the word “WARRIOR.”

The regular blogger for PEOPLE.com is trying to regain her strength after being diagnosed with cancer for the third time. She told PEOPLE: “being home makes me feel that much closer to normal. It’s a big step in the right direction.”

Although, she is facing physical challenges, she clearly has retained her signature fighting spirit. She added: “my mind is not really on the same level as my body. My mind thinks I can get up and do anything I want, and my body doesn’t really let me. It’s frustrating to work through. Going back and forth to the bathroom feels like a marathon. It’s like ‘Why is this taking so much energy?’ I need a chair in the elevator! I hate that feeling.”

When discussing the outcome of her visit with the doctor earlier this week, she said it was “a mixed bag of some good and bad news.” The surgery successfully removed two large growths but, unfortunately, more cancer remains in her colon and in the lining of her stomach. She will have to undergo chemotherapy again.

Despite showing so much strength, Brown admits that “this one has kind of thrown [her] for a big loop, to realize how serious this is.”  She says that she worries about how long this will go on.  In the meantime, she must focus on gaining 25lbs in order to undergo treatment. She has become so frail that she says that she can see her heart beating through her skin. She’s also trying to deal with a loss of appetite and the challenge of creating protein-rich, high calorie foods while maintaining her vegetarian lifestyle.

As she struggles to adjust to life with a colostomy bag, she says that she is overwhelmed by the support she is receiving from her friends, family and fans. She recently participated in the 5K Run For Her race to support ovarian cancer research and her friend, Alicia Quarles, said: “yes, she was in a wheelchair but this was a victory. There she was, lifting all of our spirits with her bravery and courage. Our team was called Dancing for Diem because, no matter what challenges life throws at her, Diem keeps dancing her way through life.”

For her part, Brown simply says that she doesn’t “have any choice but to face it and fight it.” It’s fall and she wants to go apple picking, pumpkin picking and just wants “so badly to live normally again.”

In addition to the courageous example she provides for those who are also battling cancer, Brown created the website, MedGift, which is a registry that provides emotional, physical and financial support for patients and their families.

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