'Survivor: Palau' castaway Jennifer Lyon reveals she has breast cancer
By Reality TV World staff, 10/17/2005
Former Survivor: Palau contestant Jennifer Lyon has announced that she has breast cancer, going public with her battle with the disease in a first person account published in People magazine.
Jennifer, perhaps best remembered for her island romance with fellow Palau castaway Greg Carey, says she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer this summer and is currently undergoing treatment.
The 33-year-old attractive blonde had gotten saline implants six years ago and first detected some lumps in Summer 2004 (before Survivor: Palau filmed in late 2004), but failed to followup with a physician, citing the fact that her didn't have health insurance as one of the main reasons why she didn't do so.
"At the time I noticed the lumps I didn't have insurance, which was a big part of why I didn't get it checked immediately. I went on the Internet and thought, 'It is scar tissue. No big deal,'" wrote Jennifer. "But a year later, I felt another lump right in the center of the breast and something in my right armpit. I saw a surgeon who said, 'I'm pretty sure you have breast cancer.' After a mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy, it was confirmed -- stage III."
Jennifer underwent a modified, radical bilateral mastectomy at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on August 29, during which a surgeon removed both her breasts and 29 lymph nodes.
After her mastectomy, Jennifer underwent reconstructive surgery, completed when a plastic surgeon inserted new "smaller" silicone implants on October 5. "My new implants have been a huge boost to my spirit," said Jennifer. According to Jennifer, she had originally gotten her saline implants because "it was just something in my head that I thought I needed to do for self-esteem, to balance myself out."
Lyon is scheduled to start a 4-6 month course of chemotherapy shortly, followed by tamoxifen, a drug treatment that reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence. In addition to losing her hair, Jennifer, who has yet to have any children, has also been warned that she might go into early menopause.
As for losing her hair, Jennifer isn't too worried -- fellow Palau castaway Coby Archa, a hairdresser, has promised to shave Jennifer's head for her, as well as his own. "Survivor taught me there’s an end in sight. As hard as it is, it will be over, and you have to appreciate every day," she wrote.
Jennifer had finished fourth on Survivor: Palau, eliminated from the million dollar competition after she lost a firestarting Tribal Council tiebreaker challenge to eventual third-place finisher Ian Rosenberger. For those wondering, Jennifer and Greg are now "just friends" -- but Jennifer is currently dating another former CBS reality TV show contestant, The Amazing Race 7'sBrian Smith.