Diem Brown, who starred on seven seasons of MTV’s The Challenge, has died at the age of 32, People confirmed.
Brown joined The Challenge: Fresh Meat after her first bout with ovarian cancer, explicitly stating her intention to use the reality competition as a platform to raise awareness for people living with cancer. She was a prominent, outspoken advocate who blogged about her struggles through remission and recurrence on People.com. She was also involved with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and spoke in Congress on behalf of the Affordable Care Act.
Before creating the online registry MedGift, Brown appeared on MTV’s Made and learned salsa so she could perform at a charity gala. Fellow Challenge competitor Chris “C.T.” Tamburello, her boyfriend at the time, appeared on Made and remained friends with Brown throughout their on-and-off relationship. She credited Tamburello for inspiring her during her first recovery, and their exchanges about her battle with cancer made for some of the series’ most touching moments. Though the couple broke up, Tamburello visited Brown during her final hospital stay, posting his support for her and MedGift on Instagram.
At the 2013 Rivals II reunion, Brown told EW she was frustrated the show had downplayed the health aspects of her story and that Rivals II would be her last appearance on the show. “I was very vocal about being very worried about competing on the show so fresh off [chemotherapy],” she said, “but at the same time I felt like it was a story that should be told for other people going through it.” She continued, “I wanted to share that story. I’m sad they didn’t [really] show that story. But that was something that was very important to me, and, to be honest, that’s the reason why I’m not doing another one.”
Brown was filming an eighth stint on an upcoming season of The Challenge in August when she collapsed and was flown to the hospital, where she learned her cancer had returned. In October, she announced that the cancer had spread to her stomach and colon.
Still, Brown continued to be candid about her health and passionate about life. She tweeted on Tuesday, “I NEED PRAyErs and advice my doctors are seemingly giving up but I won’t & can’t rollover. Whatever option I have to LIVE I’m grabbing!”
MTV has issued this statement: “MTV is tremendously sad to hear the news that Diem Brown has lost her long battle with cancer. We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Diem was a true fighter and brought passion to everything she touched. We will miss her.”
UPDATE: Brown’s family released this tribute video, which was played at her funeral.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated Brown’s age as 32. People has confirmed she was 34.