Fans of Diem Brown knew her last moments on The Challenge would be heart-wrenching. They also knew Brown would not leave the show without her signature strength and passion.
Tuesday’s episode of Battle of the Exes 2 saw Brown, 34, sidelined by the excruciating pain she would later learn was colon cancer. After an overnight stay, the pain returned, forcing her to be medically evacuated from the competition.
Accompanying shots of her flight from Panama to New York City, where she underwent surgery and months of treatment before dying on Nov. 14, Brown began her final words on the show: “I’m at a point in my life where I want to just live life.”
Despite two previous bouts with ovarian cancer that forced Brown to remove her ovaries and look to surrogacy, Brown affirmed, “I want the white-picket-fence dream: I want to get married, I want to have kids. And, I think for the longest time – I’m not gonna lie – I was a runaway bride. I have been the girl that’s terrified of commitment.”
But, she continued, “I’m realizing that, no matter how organized your ducks are, life can turn on 2 seconds. So, you can’t keep on waiting. Because, if you keep on waiting, it’s gone.”
Brown also had kind words for her Exes partner and on-and-off boyfriend Chris ”CT” Tamburello: “Having a partner like CT with me gives me some sort of weird relief that somebody is in my corner – and that feels comforting.”
Indeed, CT wasn’t the only one in Brown’s corner. Several of her castmates spoke with PEOPLE about the powerful impact Brown had on their lives.
Jemmye Carroll, whose Exes 2 partner Ryan Knight also died in November after Challenge filming finished, said that seeing her friends one last time on the show has been tough because they “were people who loved life more than anything so it’s just really not fair. They were people who loved to live.”
Camila Nakagawa said she “had to understand how to live without [Diem]. She was just an integral part of my life on a daily basis.” She admits, “Sometimes I just text her and tweet her.”
Nakagawa continued that losing Brown has “changed my life … everything became very black and white – my priorities – and you start to value people who give value to you.”
Wes Bergmann considered Brown a sister since they first appeared on The Challenge: Fresh Meat in 2006. “The stuff that’s impossible to get out of your head is her smile and the way that she squirmed when she was pretending she didn’t like gossip even though she loved it,” he said with a laugh.
“Oh and her dancing and how scared s—less she was of heights,” he said. “That never changed. It only got worse, but she continued to jump off of stuff.”
• Reporting by RAHA LEWIS