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MTV reality star Diem Brown has died at age 32 of complications from cancer. The star of the Challenge series had fought cancer for years, beginning with her first bout of ovarian cancer when she was just 23. Her fight with cancer was chronicled by MTV, leading her to become the face of young people stricken by the disease as she turned her focus to awareness and education.
Brown had another recurrence of cancer in 2012, which resulted in a hysterectomy. She documented her journey through blog posts on People Magazine’s website and shared the emotional and physical struggles cancer had brought into her life. Always hopeful, Brown spoke of looking for reasons to ‘grab onto’ life rather than letting the disease get the best of her.
Her first cancer diagnosis was revealed during her Challenge debut and her willingness to push through and be a top competitor made her a fan favorite. She would later go through her first round of chemotherapy and into remission as viewers cheered her on. Her connection with costar C.T. Tamburello, who was photographed with Diem in her hospital room earlier this year, was another reason viewers rooted for her. She famously calmed his fiery attitude and allowed viewers to see his softer side.
The recurrence of cancer a third time this past August was a bit harder for Brown to take than the last two rounds she fought. After learning the cancer had been found in her stomach and colon, later spreading to her liver and lymph nodes, she was candid in saying that having a third battle to fight was hard on her, saying it had crushed her spirit a little bit.
Still, Brown fought on and continued to make goals for a long life ahead. In her blog for People, she mentioned her dream of marriage and having a family because, to her, those dreams meant a long life. She also said last month that setting those goals was a way for her to focus on living as hard and as vigorously as she could.
Brown’s condition began to worsen this week, and friends and family gathered at her bedside in an NYC hospital. Friends posted pictures to their Instagram of them toasting their ailing friend, using the hashtag #thestrongestgirlweknow. Brown’s own Twitter account remained active until the night before she died.
Brown leaves behind a legacy of not only a fighting spirit, but several charitable causes as well. Her latest project, MedGift, a support registry for those battling any illness, was a driving force in her attitude and willingness to keep fighting cancer for a third time. She would say in October that she wanted those who used MedGift to see the service as a reason to keep fighting their illness and to not give up. Since Brown’s death, the MedGift website has been overwhelmed by visitors.
While Brown may have been first known as a reality television star on MTV, she will be remembered as a woman who courageously battled cancer for over ten years, while maintaining a fighting spirit up until the very end. In sharing her journey, Brown helped others and was a voice for those stricken by cancer in the prime of their lives.
By Jennifer Gulbrandsen