Just a few months ago, Diem Brown was on cloud nine after scoring the runner-up spot in the latest MTV “The Challenge” installment, six years after being diagnosed and subsequently triumphing over ovarian cancer when she was just 23 years old.
But last month, the fun-loving reality star and founder of MedGift.com, a unique gift registry program for anyone hospitalized and in need of items and support, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her remaining ovary.
Brown tells Fox411’s Pop Tarts column that she first sensed something was wrong last year, just before she embarked on those hard-hitting TV adventures abroad.
“I started getting pains around October, but I could never tell if I was just being a hypochondriac. I went to the hospital for tests and was told everything was fine so I put it down to being paranoid. I went for another check-up in May and again things were fine,” Brown told us. “But after more awful pains, I went back and they did one more internal test … I saw the doctor’s eyes widen, and immediately I knew something was wrong.”
Within days, Brown, who just turned 30 last week, found herself in yet another surgery gown ready to have the cyst removed.
“Last time I woke up with a laundry list of things that had been taken out – my ovary, fallopian tube, appendix, lymph nodes, stuff I didn’t even know was in my body. I didn’t want that to happen again,” she continued. “But when I woke up this time, the doctor was there rubbing my hand I knew things were bad … Six days later, I found out once again that I have cancer.”
The television personality is staying strong and planning to tackle the problem one step at a time, with the first base being freezing eggs in the hopes of becoming a mother one day, before undergoing surgery to remove her ovary and determine whether the cancer has spread.
“I will then start menopause and have a little time to heal before I begin chemotherapy,” Brown explained. “Chemo doesn’t scare me, I know what to expect from that. Your hair, all of that grows back. But going through menopause at this age with this condition, I just don’t know what to expect and that frightens me. I’ll be honest and say I feel embarrassed, it just doesn’t seem real.”
However, the young star is more determined than ever to get MedGift aligned with as many hospitals as possible across the country while undergoing treatment, and credits her devout Catholic faith for pulling though all the moments of darkness.
“My faith is everything; it is the only thing that is able to hold me up. I am still in shock, but I am not a victim. There’s no ‘poor me’ – when you are in hospital, you just have to look around the corner and you realize that there is a dozen people worse off than you are,” she added. “Happiness is a choice and I am choosing to be happy through all of this regardless of what happens. The first time around, the biggest thing for me was losing my hair. Now the biggest thing for me is living.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay