Ethan Zohn, winner of Survivor: Africa, has an impressive resume. Not only did he win the million dollar prize in one of the most difficult seasons of Survivor, but along with girlfriend of eight years and fellow Survivor winner Jenna Morasca, he competed in Survivor: All Stars, Fear Factor, and The Amazing Race. He’s won numerous awards for his nonprofit organization, Grass Root Soccer, that he began after his win, which brings HIV/AIDS awareness to African children through the sport. He has also hosted soccer programs on two different television networks and he and Jenna were working on their own tv show, Everyday Health. This guy makes me feel lazy. What do I do? Work a desk job and parent a couple of kids. That’s it, and I need a nap. But to be fair, my kids are really, REALLY crazy-hyper almost all of the time.
Ethan is also a cancer survivor. Ethan fought a hard battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after his initial diagnosis in 2009 and was given official remission status in early 2010. He had won. But the cancer has returned. At an oncologist appointment in mid-September, Ethan, with Jenna at his side (seriously, these two are LITERALLY the sweetest reality-tv-initiated couple ever), learned that the cancer had returned and that he’d have to fight once again.
“I have taken all the fear and dread instilled by this horrible disease and transformed it into something that fear itself should be afraid of. Cancer has nothing on me!” Zohn posted on his Facebook fan page on Wednesday. Obviously he’s ready to punch cancer in the face. ”We’re both filled with fear and anger and anxiety and gratitude and frustration. But there’s so much love there. It’s this whole spectrum of emotions.”
Ethan needs stem cells from an outside source, hopefully one of his brothers. Thankfully Ethan has a strong, supportive family, which, I can imagine, is absolutely imperative. “The doctors won’t tell me which one [might be a match]. They didn’t want me to start treating one differently than the other,” Zohn said. “Of course my whole family is taking bets on who it is.”
Most people (and by “most people”, I mean “mostly me”) don’t have a fraction of the energy to do what Ethan does WITHOUT the diagnosis of recurring cancer, but he’s not going to let this slow him any. So much so, he’s competing in the ING New York City Marathon this Sunday. Let me repeat: HE’S RACING COMPETITIVELY FOR 26.2 MILES WHILE UNDERGOING CHEMOTHERAPY.
“I beat cancer, and it came back,” he said. “But it isn’t going to slow me down.”
My kids and I went out for dinner tonight and it was pretty cold out, so we had to walk briskly across the parking lot because I had parked really far away. When we got to my car, I needed a moment to catch my breath before I could drive. I think I might be doing something wrong.
Ethan beat this once before and I hope he maintains his obvious, impressive strength, mentally and physically, to overcome cancer again. While many people would lose optimism, Ethan’s not going to take any crap from anyone, including this disease. ”I don’t want fear or cancer to define me,” he said. “I want people to know that you can still live a fulfilled life and move forward.”