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Cancer survivor Ethan Zohn, winner of "Survivor: Africa," will be the face of the just-announced "Survivor" alliance with Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), a charitable organization that raises funds for cancer research. CBS announced this morning that "Survivor" has formed a long-term alliance with the charity, making it the first television series to create a team for the SU2C Team Challenge to fundraise for Stand Up to Cancer.
This morning Ethan talks to ET about his health, following his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, and his role as spokesperson for the "Survivor" SU2C Team.
ET: You are in remission, right?
Ethan Zohn: I am in remission. I went through the stem cell transplant in late December, early January and I got word that I was in remission in April. For me, this is so exciting because science is unbelievable and modern medicine is crazy. The money raised from this initiative specifically is going to go for research. The goal -- through Stand Up to Cancer -- is to get the treatments out of the lab and to the patients as quick as possible. That is what Stand Up to Cancer does with its dream teams. They all focus on a different cancer and try to find answers.
ET: In addition to being the face of this, you are also going to be blogging. How are you going to pick the topics? Is it all going to be personal stuff?
Ethan Zohn: Yeah. This past year has given me some perspective on the meaning of the word "Survivor." A lot of things have happened to me and I think I have a new perspective on life. In addition to me, we will be having television show "Survivors" and cancer survivors sharing their stories as well on the blog, so it is not just me. It is kind of exciting that the whole "Survivor" crew has gotten behind this.
ET: This morning Les Moonves [President and CEO, CBS Corporation] sent out an e-mail asking for donations. How does it feel to have someone that high up the food chain be involved in a cause that is near to your heart?
Ethan Zohn: I read that e-mail, too, and I saw my name in there and I was real excited. It is a testament to the "Survivor" brand and CBS. This is the first reality television show to do something with Stand Up to Cancer. This is the first television show to create a charity of this magnitude, so it is an honor. I said it before, they say the "Survivor" family, but we are a family, whether you are on the cast, or a crew member, or at CBS. We take care of each other and we are somewhat friends. We come together to fight cancer. Nothing like this has been done before. It is the perfect opportunity. It is the 10th anniversary of "Survivor." As we all know, we lost a good friend to the family, Jenn Lyon, this year, and I was diagnosed, so it is the perfect opportunity to launch an initiative like this.
ET: When will the blog post?
Ethan Zohn: My first blog is up there now. I think at least once or twice a week, according to CBS, we will have new blogs up there. The message to the entire "Survivor" family just went out today. We have been getting some incredible feedback from everybody who has played the game. A lot of people want to get involved and write about how cancer has touched them. We also created a limited edition "Survivor" buff that we will be selling. It is cool. I had a hand in designing that. We will have some "Survivor" fundraising events in the future. We are developing that now. Obviously, there will be former contestants there and we will be incorporating a lot of the "Survivor" themes. I think the first one in February.
ET: How did winning "Survivor: Africa" change your life?
Ethan Zohn: Personally it allowed me to pursue things that I've always wanted to do but never could. Winning a million dollars and getting that little bit of fame that comes along with it allowed me to start my own charity: Grassroot Soccer. Without that, I really would have not been able to do what I love. I started it with the "Survivor" money. We started in a couple of schools in Zimbabwe. Now we are in 18 different African countries and we have graduated 350,000 kids from the program. It has given me that life.
ET: If they did another "Survivor: All Stars," would you come back?
Ethan Zohn: If they would do cancer survivors vs. television "Survivors" on two different tribes … no, I would definitely think about going back. If they would donate the prize -- $1 million – to Stand Up to Cancer that would be cool. No one would show up. I would definitely consider it.
Ethan will be featured during the "Stand Up To Cancer" TV event, to be broadcast live and commercial-free Friday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. on CBS as well as additional participating networks and cable outlets. Donations to the Survivor Stands Up team can be made year-round via www.standup2cancer.org/survivor.