MTV star and cancer survivor creates patient gift registry website

Five years ago, Diem Brown had just been cast on MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge reality series – and one month later, the entertainment reporter discovered she had ovarian cancer.

“I find out that I have a tumor the size of a 2-liter Coke bottle, and I start freaking out,” Brown told “I didn’t understand what to do because I’m not really a kid at that point, but not really an adult either – so I basically had to try to figure out how to deal with this illness.

Brown, only 22 at the time, decided not to tell the producers because she wanted to go ahead with filming.

“I decided I wanted to do everything on my life list, and what better way than going on a challenge show and getting to jump off buildings, swim with sharks and do all these crazy things,” Brown said. “It kind of got my mind away from the scary treatment of cancer aspects because I knew the second I got back, I had to go full force with heavy, heavy doses (of chemotherapy).”

Her secret eventually came out on the show, and her battle suddenly became very public. Brown found success on the show and has appeared as a recurring cast member of the show.  In 2011, she was asked back to star in MTV’s The Challenge: Battle of the Exes, which airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays.

According to the Mayo Clinic, ovarian cancer can often go undetected for a long period of time.

Symptoms can include: abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating, changes in bowel or bladder habits, low back pain and a persistent lack of energy.

Risks for the disease can include: inherited gene mutations, increasing age, never having been pregnant or hormone replacement therapy for menopause, the Mayo Clinic says on its website.

Now cancer-free, Brown is using her fame for a project very close to her heart. She created, the first-ever patient gift registry for people in the hospital.

“It’s my heart and passion,” Brown said of the website, adding that when she went wig shopping during treatment, she was shocked to find out how expensive wigs were. And that got her thinking.

“I realized that all my girlfriends, in two seconds, when they need help with their weddings I can help be a part of their wedding by getting something off their gift registry,” Brown said. “I can help someone who has a baby by getting something off their gift registry -- but there was no gift registry for patients.”

Patient registries on are verified through a patient’s hospital bill. Friends and family can log on to donate everything from money to help pay for things like hospital bills, groceries, medical equipment and they can even donate visits, letters and prayers.

“Any item that can help reduce one ounce of stress, they can register for it,” Brown said. “It takes the pride out of asking for help.”

You celebrate weddings, you celebrate births, why not celebrate when you’re fighting for your life, she added.

For more information, check out, or find Brown on Twitter and Facebook.