Dana Lambert departed Survivor: Philippines due to illness during Wednesday night's fifth episode of the CBS reality series' 25th edition.

Dana, a 32-year-old cosmetologist from Winston-Salem, NC, got evacuated from the island -- although she had been medically cleared to stay in the game by the show's medical staff -- after she determined she was too sick to continue competing.

In an exclusive interview on Thursday, Dana talked to Reality TV World about her prematurely-shortened Survivor: Philippines experience.

Below is the first half of Dana's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion. Also check back later today to read our separate interview with ousted castaway Sarah Dawson.

Reality TV World: What exactly was wrong with you when you were sick? Did they formally diagnose you with anything after you were out of the game? All they showed was the medic making the comment that your "tummy was irritated." (Laughs)

Dana Lambert: Yeah, it was -- before I started the game, I was sick. I'd been sick. I'd been struggling for 12 days or longer. It was basically dehydration. I couldn't keep anything down or in my body. (Laughs) Nothing wanted to stay where it should, so to speak. So yeah, once I left the game, I spent about four days in the hospital -- lots of fluids and lots of antibiotics. It was just being dehydrated from not being able to keep anything down, basically.

Reality TV World: So you were sick before the game began already?

Dana Lambert: Oh yeah. (Laughs) I was biting it hard every single day, like up and down all day and all night -- like barely even slept. And as for the tribe, they knew I was sick. They also knew I tended the fire every single night just so I could hide the fact of how sick I was.

That was my one moment to just run to the bathroom and pee (laughs) and be left alone, you know, so to speak. But I was definitely going downhill. So what you guys got to see was actually -- I know he said I had 12 more hours. And the reason why I decided to leave then was because I knew I had been fighting it as hard as I had, and I knew that there was just no getting better without fluids -- I knew.

Reality TV World: I was going to ask you about that. After checking you out, the medic said you were okay to stay in the game for at least another 12 hours. Did that surprise you?

Dana Lambert: It did actually surprise me, but I also know, you know, I've watched the game. I'm a fan. And I know a medic will not let you -- like they will not give you the "okay" or the clear to leave unless your life, right there in that moment, is in danger. And at that moment, I pretty much felt like my life was in danger. (Laughs)

I felt, pretty much, like a zombie. I was completely out of it. I was lethargic. I was so sick. I just could not, could not physically go two more seconds. And I knew the weather was so bad there that sometimes it would take hours for boats to come over to be able to get us for anything.
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I was so worried. So what happens if in 12 hours I'm dead and no one is here to save me?! (Laughs) You know? So it was a decision that I had to make and I hated that that was the decision that I had to make, but I stand by it still.

Reality TV World: Just to follow up on what you're saying, the medic's assessment basically put that decision of whether to leave the game in your own hands. Did that kind of frustrate you at all or make the situation even worse? Because he kind of seemed to be suggesting it all came down to your own personal discomfort level or pain threshold, and you obviously considered yourself to be a very tough person.

Dana Lambert: Yeah. I guess I'm not as tough as I thought, (laughs) or my immune system isn't as tough as I want it to be. I did hate that it was put on me, but I understand. He wasn't on the island to see the struggle day in and day out and that's his job. That's what he had to do. It was a tough decision to make, I knew personally. And my tribe knew personally what I was going through.

Honestly, I don't think they would've been as nice to me about it if they didn't truly understand what battle I had been going through. If you guys would've gotten to see more of Kalabaw, you probably would've seen me blacking out a few times, sleeping against a tree, throwing up a few times, hiding away from everybody. I was living like an animal out there after awhile. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: So you're saying that your tribe knew leaving the game was a decision you were making on your own?

Dana Lambert: I think that they knew. I think that they were pretty surprised that that was the decision, because honestly, I passed out. [Jonathan Penner] pretty much saved my life on the way to one of the challenges. I literally passed out and almost fell out of the boat. So they knew exactly how bad I was and I think we were all pretty surprised that that was left up to me, but they also knew that -- I mean, I don't know, but I would say that they probably would've made the same decision -- maybe not.

Reality TV World: So in retrospect, knowing what you went through after you left the game, it sounds like you're confident that you made the right decision and there's no way you could've remained in the game and worked your way through it or anything?

Dana Lambert: Yeah, there was no way. There was no way in hell that I was ever getting better. There just wasn't. I battled it for too many days to know that it wasn't just going to quit by itself, because it hadn't for I would say, honestly, 14-16 days -- [sick] for 24 hours a day.

I thought, "At least if I can just suck it up during challenges and still be a strong competitor in challenges that maybe" -- and I never felt like I was literally on the chopping block ever at one point. I felt pretty safe, which I guess a lot of people do, but yeah. I have to stand behind that decision 100% percent.

Reality TV World: You just mentioned Jonathan almost saved your life. What was your relationship with Jonathan like during the show?  Because last night's episode seemed to show him really trying to take care of you once you got sick -- so was that representative of how close you two had been the entire game, or was that just a case where he'd been especially sympathetic towards you since he'd been through the exact same thing on his Survivor season and could relate?

Dana Lambert: The first episode, you see us trying to get rid of Penner, and that is because it is a game. He is a threat. He's played the game twice before. He's a threat. But that's a good thing, and I mean that as a compliment, because Penner is an outstanding man. I give Penner all props, and not just on-camera.

The things that people didn't get to see about Penner, he tried to keep a lively camp. He'd sing a little and tell us some good stories, and he's a compassionate guy. I truly like Penner as a person, and yes, his game was intimidating.

I would've gotten rid of him as soon as I could've. But as a person, and now, if I could choose who to win, it would have to be between Penner, [Denise Stapley] and [Michael Skupin] for me, you know? He's getting up there in the years and I think that would be a great win for him now. So I hope he goes far in the game.

Reality TV World: Like you said, your tribe had initially pledged to vote Jonathan off first, but that plan seemed to fall apart as soon as Jeff Kent found out he had discovered the hidden Immunity Idol and then the two of them formed that guys' alliance with Carter Williams as well. Did that surprise you or had you been skeptical that the "everybody versus Penner alliance" was going to hold up from the beginning?

Dana Lambert: Hell no, I knew that alliance wasn't going to hold at all. They didn't show it, but the first few minutes on the island, Penner pulled me off and asked me to be in his alliance. And of course we shook on it and I said, "Yes," and I got back and I told them, "There's no way that's going to work."

Because I've seen Penner's other seasons, and you know, we were still working on trust at that point. But yeah, I started feeling the guys out. I could tell that they started leaving camp and I knew what they were doing. I feel like I read people pretty well and I could tell that they were starting to go off again together -- more and more together -- and the girls would go off to do other little tasks so they could talk.

Before you see that episode of them in the water, and you see us making our alliance on that log, we had already formed our three-girl alliance. We were already going to do that regardless before they showed that with the guys.

I didn't know how far it would take me considering it was still, pretty much, a physical challenge at that point in the game. But I was going to try to take it as far as I could. When Denise came over, it only upped that chance even more. But then at that very point was when I got sick and it all went to hell. (Laughs)

Above is the first half of Dana's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.