“You know how they say when it rains it pours?” Burquest, 49, said in a video via Instagram on Sunday, June 7. “Well, it really poured on me today.”
Burquest, who competed on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, wore a shirt in her message that read, “I survived esophageal and ovarian cancer.”
She explained that after recently being diagnosed with both esophageal and ovarian cancer she knows she will overcome the disease and be a survivor once more.
“When did I survive that? Well, I’m going to do it right now because today I was told that I had both, that esophageal cancer started and traveled to my ovary,” the Grit Girl author said. “It’s not a super great thing, of course, and not fun to hear.”
The mother of four added: “But I will say that I do know that I have already survived cancer once and I will survive it again, which is why I’m wearing this shirt and saying right now I survived it.”
After hearing Burquest’s news, Zeke Smith, who also competed on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, took to Instagram to share his support for his friend.
“There is no more enthusiastically strong, kind, and positive #Survivor than my darling @sundaysurvivor,” Smith, 32, wrote on Monday, June 8. “She is relentless, and that esophageal & ovarian cancer doesn’t stand a chance!! I’ve got your back, Sunday, whatever can make this time a little less painful, I am here for — maybe another helicopter ride!?”
He concluded: “I promise @bretlabelle and I won’t have any more important convos without you! Sending all the love and healing and strength your way, but you’ve got all the strength you need already, #GritGirl #FCancer.”
Ahead of joining Survivor in 2016, the Minnesota native battled breast cancer in 2012 and after multiple surgeries, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, she was declared cancer-free.
Her fight with the disease and impending 45th birthday is what later inspired the youth pastor to submit a tape to the show in 2015 and eventually compete on season 33 of the series.
“Besides my four amazing kids, I’m most proud of being a breast cancer survivor,” Burquest’s bio for the CBS series read. “After five surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and 28 days of radiation — not to mention the horrible meds they put you on — I’m still here!”
She explained that it “was important to me that my kids saw me as a ‘warrior,’ rather than as a whiner,” in life and on the show.
In the end, Burquest revealed that “of course, it was hard, but I wouldn’t let cancer take over my life. Because of my faith, I was able to kick cancer’s butt!”
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