Photo source: MTV
Many fell in love with Diem Brown during her season of MTV's 'The Challenge' but sadly, she passed away only a few weeks after the show from her battle with cancer. However, MTV has put in place a way to ensure that she is remembered for seasons to come.
After the show finished filming, both Diem Brown and Ryan Knight died. At the time of their deaths, the program had not yet aired, so the producer, Jonathan Murray, decided to edit the show, and dedicated the season to them.
Some thought that this was not enough, and suggested that the show should not have been aired at all; however, Jonathan responded that "all the cast and people who make the series believe that Diem and Knight would have wanted us to air the shows. We worked hard to make sure these finals show do them justice."
When the show did air, this sentiment certainly came through. As fans watched, knowing what would happen afterwards, they were heartbroken. They fell in love with the star, and felt for her while they watched her in terrible pain, that they knew was colon cancer due to what happened afterwards. During one episode, her pain was so terrible that she had to be medically evacuated.
She flew from Panama all the way to New York City, and then went through surgery before undergoing months of treatment before she finally passed away.
Fans were absolutely crushed when they listened to her final words on the show: "I'm at a point in my life where I want to just live life. I want the white picket fence dream: I want to get married, I want to have kids. And, I think for the first time - I’m not gonna lie - I was a runaway bride. I have been the girl that's terrified of commitment. I'm realizing that, no matter how organized your ducks are, life can turn on 2 seconds. So, you can't keep on waiting. Because, if you keep on waiting, it's gone."
Diem had previously fought against ovarian cancer twice, which led to removal of her ovaries, but she was still hopeful and was open to surrogacy.
Her support system
Her cast-mates were probably the most torn up about her passing, and struggled to imagine the world without her. Her ex-boyfriend Chris Tamburello was always supporting her, and was devastated to learn the news. She had offered an immensely positive impact in his, and many others’ lives.
Jemmye Carroll said that it was hard to watch the episodes, referencing that both Diem and Knight "were people who loved life more than anything so it's just really not fair. They were people who loved to live."
Camila Nakagawa offered similar insights, saying that she "had to understand how to live without [Diem]. She was just an integral part of my life on a daily basis. Sometimes I just text her and tweet her." She even said that Diem’s death "changed my life ... everything became very black and white - my priorities - and you start to value people who give value to you."
Wes Bergmann had more intimate memories of Diem, and even said that he considered her a sister. He explained, "the stuff that's impossible to get out of your head is her smile and the way that she squirmed when she was pretending she didn't like gossip even though she loved it. Oh and her dancing and how scared s***less she was of heights. That never changed. It only got worse, but she continued to jump off of stuff."
Averey Tressler was Diem's bunkmate while filming, and she also referenced what it was like to watch her dance, "she just brought a light to whatever she's doing like you couldn't not notice her. She was just so full of life, love, and charisma. You were just drawn to her."
Johnny Devenanzio got to know them, and many other contestants, very well. He said "having people like Knight and Diem on the show, they both bring such energies to the show. Knight was always up for a good time. Diem was this innocent little sheltered girl from Florida who came on these challenges bright eyed and bushy tailed."
He even referred to how everyone became even more enamored with Diem when they saw her fight against cancer, "more than anything, Diem wanted to get her message out there and she wanted to bring awareness to this awful battle she was fighting. Out of all the people I've ever met, she's one of the strongest human beings this planet has ever seen, and we're really going to miss her. We lost a great soul."
Fighting for the cause
While these are just some of the way that Diem and Ryan are remembered, The Challenge is also starting something new. Now, we are near the third anniversary of their deaths, so MTV joined with eBay for Charity to donate to Diem's cause.
Through this initiative, fans will be able to purchase merchandise, while also supporting the cause that was so dear to one of their most beloved contestants.
Viewers can bid on completely exclusive items that have been signed by cast members that have been seen throughout the show. The profits will be donated to Bright Pink, which is a non-profit organization that is fighting for prevention via early detection of ovarian and breast cancer in women.
Johnny Devenanzio explains why this is going to make an impact, "this is a way for us to try and not just spread awareness but actually help and contribute to cancer research and, hopefully, a cancer cure one day. We're all such a close-knit bunch, that when she was going through the fight, it hit very close to home for all of us."
Devenanzio went on to explain, "she didn't let a whole lot of people know how bad it was until it was pretty much too late. This girl was going through chemotherapy and fighting cancer for the third time, and she was still so optimistic in her outlook on everything. But that last time I saw her [at the hospital in New York], that energy and that aura that she gave off was already gone. Even though she was still physically with us, it seemed like cancer had already taken away what made her who she was." This is a large reason why the cast are so supportive of this initiative, because they saw what cancer did to their dear friend and don't want anyone else to have to go through the same thing.
Before her death, Diem had worked with a site called MedGift, which fights to connect patients with other entities that can offer financial support and emotional care for those who might not otherwise have access. After her passing, Devenanzio targeted his emotions towards this initiative, and raised money to help fund another girl going through something similar, a high school student in California by the name of Kelsey Brown. Thanks to his support, she has now been in remission for almost two years. While it was Devenanzio’s work that accomplished this, one could argue that it was really thanks to Diem, as she has raised this sort of awareness and has sparked others to fight for her cause.