Victoria Arlen is an ESPN personality and former Paralympian swimmer who, at age 11, was diagnosed with a neurological condition and an autoimmune disease, which affected her spinal cord and left her in a vegetative state for four years. Arlen slowly regained the ability to speak, eat, walk, and move and now is competing on season 25 of Dancing with the Stars — and is blogging about her experience on the ABC reality show exclusively for PEOPLE. Follow Arlen, 22, and her partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy, 31, on Twitter!
Last week could not have gone better.
I was so excited about our waltz. Last week was so challenging for the both of us and that waltz could not have gone better. It was so hard to learn but so satisfying to perform it and get the feedback from the judges that we got.
And the team dance was the cherry on top! We worked so much as a team and it was so fun and I’m so glad that translated into our performance and our scores of perfect 10s. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Halloween.
But the night ended with a big shocker. No one expected TWO couples to be going home. We were coming off the high of the team dance and all of a suddenly everything was happening so quickly: first Nikki [Bella] and Artem were told they were eliminated and we all thought Vanessa [Lachey] and Maks were going to be safe but then they announced they would also be going home.
RELATED VIDEO: Victoria Arlen Thought She Wouldn’t Make it to Her 16th Birthday After She was Paralyzed by a Rare Condition
We were all in disbelief. We were walking around in shock. Vanessa and Nikki both worked so hard and are incredible dancers and incredible humans, so it was really hard to see them go. I just love them to pieces.
But their eliminations means we are part of the final six couples! I’ve felt a ton of pressure from day one of the competition but now it’s on a whole new level. But as much as I want to win, I really just want to dance on the show as much as I can.
- PEOPLE’s special issue 25 Seasons of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is on stands now
Week 1, just crossing my feet to do the cha cha seemed impossible and now here we are doing an Argentine tango with just five other couples left. It’s such a tremendous honor to redefine what is possible and inspire people. I just want to do that as long as possible.
RELATED VIDEO: Trapped in Her Paralyzed Body: How DWTS’ Victoria Arlen Survived Two Years Conscious While Unable to Move
We’ve done a tango before earlier in the season. It was to a Taylor Swift song and it was just epic. But this time we’re doing an Argentine tango, which is really different. The traditional tango is really staccato, but with the Argentine tango you have to be really sexy and saucy. That’s a very different side for people to see of me on this show. It’s really fun to get to play different characters and it’s really cool to get to shock people a little bit.
For our trio dance Val and I are doing jive with season 23 champion Laurie Hernandez. The jive is really fun but it terrifies me. It moves very quickly and I’m just praying my feet can keep up. I’m super excited to be dancing with Laurie, though.
I met Laurie this past summer at the ESPYS and we got in touch when it was announced I would be paired with Val. We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit here and there and she came by on week 4 so I was really excited that we would get to share the ballroom with her and Val. I just hope I do her proud.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
For more from Alren, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE — on newsstands now.