Published February 29, 2012
Not everyone on an MTV reality show drinks themselves into oblivion and/or gets in fights with their dumb-as-a-stump baby daddy.
Meet head-turning, butt-kicking beauty Diem Brown, who previously appeared on "MTV Challenges" and is currently starring on the network's "The Challenge: Battle of the Exes."
The Georgia native is taking part in the action-adventure elimination show to drum up awareness for the charity she founded, MedGift, which gives seriously ill and injured people a forum to make their urgent needs known.
"It's the first ever Patient Gift Registry. Any patient, from cancer to car accidents to wounded warriors, can list their hospital bills, ask for wigs, wheelchairs, certain foods or cosmetics. Their friends, family and co-workers can then go on and select an item from their patient gift registry, without even having to ask," Brown told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "I wanted to make MedGift mainstream, so the second someone has a medical misfortune, they know where to turn."
Brown knows first hand how terrifying and traumatic being seriously ill can be. Several years ago, at the age of 22, Brown was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She says she found herself alone and afraid.
"I was so scared when I found out I had cancer, I did not know anyone who had cancer other than other friends grandparents or the kids I saw on St. Jude's commercials. And I wasn't a kid anymore, but I wasn't an adult really either, she said. "I didn't have savings at all yet, and I was scared to tell my dad because we had just lost my mom a couple years prior, and I didn't want my dad to worry."
During treatment, Brown could only afford a $10 wig, and chose to keep her diagnosis mostly under wraps, even to her closest of family and friends. She says she suffered the humiliation of being called "visually offensive" and "anorexic," and was even accused of being a drug addict by strangers on the street.
"That sent me into a deep depression. I did not leave my apartment and let the Internet become my world -- all I wanted was a good real looking wig," she continued. "I had all my friends asking me how they could help me or what could they do to help me, and all I thought was, 'I can't ask them for money for a wig -- but that is what would help me the most right now.' It was at that moment I got the latest wedding registry invite from a Southern girlfriend that I thought 'Why can't I ask for help toward a wig? Why isn't there a registry like a bridal registry, but for patients?"
Brown, who credits her Catholic faith for getting her through the darkest days, also wants to prove that young women don't need to be like Snooki to be successful on a reality television program.
"I really do think it is important for people in reality TV to honestly realize that seeking fame and obsessing over how many number of Twitter followers you have will leave you feeling empty. They should cultivate the things they loved doing job/career wise before the cameras started rolling," she said. "I feel so lucky to have gone on these shows they have helped me in real ways and I will forever be grateful to the producers and MTV for letting me be a part of their shows. But I wish that tabloid magazines would feature more stories on the good that is being done."
"The Challenge: Battle of the Exes" airs Wednesdays on MTV at 10/9c.