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Former 'Survivor: Africa' champion Ethan Zohn diagnosed with cancer


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/18/2009 

Ethan Zohn is currently fighting for survival, however this time it isn't a game.

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The Survivor: Africa champ has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the body's lymphatic system, People reported Monday.

"This is the ultimate game of Survivor.  There's really only one outcome, and that's to win. There's no other option," Zohn told People.

"I've got good family and friends, and I'll roll with the punches as it comes to me. That's how I work in life. I'll take it on like a real game of Survivor.  I'm not getting voted out of this one."

The 35-year-old said he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease on April 30 after months of enduring itching and night sweats he originally thought were the result of a skin condition.  However when doctors discovered a swollen lymph node under his left clavicle, a CT scan was taken and revealed a mass on the left side of his chest, according to People.

Last week, Zohn was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin's called CD20-positive Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"My life flashed before my eyes," Zohn recalled to People about learning of the diagnosis.

CD20-positive Hodgkin's Lymphoma has a survival rate around 90%, according to People, which added Zohn began an "altered, more aggressive" three-month chemotherapy schedule last Friday.

"They're going right after this," he told People.

Within the next two weeks, Zohn said he'll lose his trademark mop top due to the chemotherapy.

"My hair is my identity," he told People, adding he plans to shave it off before it begins to fall out.  "I'll get a mohawk or something fun that I've always wanted to do."

Zohn won Survivor: Africa -- the CBS reality show's Fall 2001 third season -- and subsequently competed on its All-Stars edition in 2004. He is currently dating Survivor: Amazon winner Jenna Morasca.

"I will fight with every fabric of my being to get him through this," Morasca told People.

Zohn's father died of colon cancer when he was 14, while Morasco's mother died from breast cancer in 2003 -- meaning both have dealt with the disease before.

"Our only point of reference with this situation is death," Morasca told People.

Despite the diagnosis, Zohn -- who in 2002 co-founded Grassroot Soccer, a non-profit organization that uses the "power of soccer" in the fight against HIV/AIDS -- said he plans to use his battle with cancer to help inspire others.

"This is happening for a reason," he told People. "You have to get spiritual about this [stuff]. I know I want to help people and inspire people. That's my purpose in life. So I need to use this as a platform."

(Photo credit CBS)


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