Tonight’s episode of The Challenge has been the episode that The Ashley (along with many of the show’s fans) has been dreading. On last week’s episode, Diem Brown was shown writhing in pain from what she believed was a stomach bug. (Unfortunately, we now know that Diem’s pain was actually caused by colon cancer, not a stomach bug.)
A preview clip from last week shows Diem’s partner (and on-again-off-again) boyfriend, CT Tamburello, screaming for someone to take him to the doctor, presumably to see Diem. Tonight’s episode will show what happened to Diem that resulted in her collapsing and being airlifted from Panama back to the United States. After fighting the cancer (which ended up spreading to other parts of her body), Diem died on November 14.
In a recent Reddit “AMA” session, show creator Jon Murray of Bunim-Murray discussed the difficult task the show’s production team had to show what happened while still being respectful to Diem, as well as Ryan Knight, a second competitor on this season who died a few weeks after Diem.
“We were still editing when they passed away,” Jon Murray wrote. “I know it influenced how we edited the shows.”
Jon did not say how their deaths affected the show’s editing; however it can be deduced that the producers ensured that Diem and Ryan were given a favorable edit. (Diem had previously complained about how she was edited on previous seasons. In fact, she had sworn off doing any more ‘Challenges’ after she felt she was edited to look “crazy” on “Rivals.”)
On the episodes that have been shown so far, Diem makes no mention that she had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time. However, in a recent interview with People, her sister Megan’s statements seem to indicate that Diem did, indeed, know she was sick when she came on ‘The Challenge.’
“We believe most of all she went on this ‘Challenge’ to prove to her body she still had some fight in her before succumbing back to treatment … to be an inspiration to those also fighting not to give up, ever,” Megan told the magazine.
Diem’s friend, Alicia Quarles, also made statements that indicated this.
“A lot of us who are close to her didn’t want her to go back on,” Alicia told People. “Of course none of us, including Diem, knew how sick she was, or that this cancer was so aggressive. When we spoke about it, D said she was going on to to earn money to use towards her medical bills. When D set her mind on something, there was no changing her or stopping her.”
During his AMA, Jon Murray wrote that the show’s production team had to figure out how to address the deaths of Diem and Knight, all while dealing with their personal grief over the loss of their friends.
“We were all devastated by the deaths of Diem and Knight,” Jon wrote of the show’s production team. “Sadly I don’t get to be in the field as much as I used to. But over the years I did get to spend quality time with both of them. They will be greatly missed. I hope we’ve done justice to them in their final appearance on ‘The Challenge.'”
While it was emotionally challenging for the show’s crew to put together the season, Jon wrote that they never once considered not airing the footage because it featured Diem and Knight.
“All the cast and people who make the series believe that Diem and Knight would have wanted us to air the shows,” he wrote. “We worked hard to make sure these final shows do them justice.”