Diem Brown

Photo by Jason Campbell

How this brave 25-year-old is tackling cancer

MTV’s Fresh Meat—the latest installment of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge reality show—is full of tense moments, challenging stunts and steep competition. But 25-year-old contestant Diem Brown is competing against more than just her fellow cast members for a $250,000 prize. She is also battling life-threatening ovarian cancer. Diem recently spoke to Savvy Miss about her life with cancer and her determination to beat it and help others with the same disease.

SM: How did you first find out you had cancer?
Diem Brown: [A year before my diagnosis,] I had a [benign tumor that was attached to one of my ovaries] and I had it removed. A year later, I had a checkup because I was having some pain in my abdomen and that’s when they told me I had cancer. I was alone [when my doctors told me] and those words were hard to listen to. Honestly, when I heard the words cancer and chemo, I thought, ‘Oh my god, is this it? Am I dying?’ I was terrified and I didn’t understand. I’m a vegetarian. I’m a healthy girl. I don’t have a history of cancer in my family. I don’t smoke. I had no idea why I got it or how I got it and I was just really confused.

SM: Many women with cancer experience an array of emotions and feelings after they receive their diagnosis. What was that cycle of feelings like for you?
Diem Brown: My heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach [after I heard that I had cancer]. My mom had already passed away and the first thing I thought was, ‘Alright, I guess I’m going to meet her soon.’ It’s a wave of emotions and there are many times when you first find out that you’re just so mad. I actually just wanted to ignore it, which is horrible. I had so many crazy thoughts of not even looking at it. You’re trying to think of anything to do but deal with the issue. Finally, I realized I had to deal with it or it was going to get me. That’s when [my mindset] turned into a positive attitude: I’m just going to bust through this stupid chemo and bust through everything and hopefully be cancer-free.