MTV
Lanford Beard
December 08, 2014 AT 06:00 PM EST

When The Challenge veteran Diem Brown died on Nov. 14, she left behind dozens of castmates who had seen not only the devastation of her three battles with cancer but also her resilience during the eight years since she joined the show in 2006.

For Brown’s Challenge competitors, there was no more powerful testament to her character than one moment during The Duel. Still growing out her hair from a grueling round of chemotherapy, Brown boldly took off her wig to compete in a swimming Challenge. She ended up winning the race. Recalls castmate Paula Meronek Beckert, “I think that was the first time she was vulnerable to everyone—but empowering herself in the same way.”

Beckert was joined by many of Brown’s Challenge pals (including Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, Aneesa Ferreira, Wes Bergmann, and Cara Maria Sorbello) for MTV’s tribute special We <3 Diem, and EW can exclusively preview their memories from that day in 2007.

We <3 Diem airs Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.

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