Dish Of Salt: Ethan Zohn: ‘Surviving’ Cancer

“Survivor: Africa” winner Ethan Zohn got some incredible news recently in his battle against a rare from of Hodgkin’s disease. Following 20 hits of radiation his doctors, via a full body scan called a PET scan, found that he had no active cancer cells in his body, “I’m not cured of cancer,” he told me via phone today. ‘There is only a 15% chance that I’d be cured if I stop right now.”

So beginning Tuesday, Ethan will spend 30 days in isolation as he undergoes a stem cell transplant which gives him a 50 to 80 percent chance of being cured of cancer, “I know that my body is receptive to something. It can heal itself. So that’s pretty exciting. Just to be able to go into the stem cell thing PET negative is huge.”

For at least 10 of the 30 days Ethan will not be allowed to have any contact with anyone other than his doctors, “I literally will have no immune system, like zero” he explains. “But on either side of that getting down to the zero point, friends and family can come in as long as they have had a flu shot, H1N1, they clean up and they are wearing a mask, gowns, hat, gloves… that whole thing. I’m like the ‘bubble boy’ if you watch ‘Seinfeld,’” he joked.

To help pass the time friends and family have been showering him with gifts. “I have like 50 DVDs,” Ethan revealed. Amongst the list of DVDs he plans to watch - “Freaks and Geeks and “The Wire.”

“Everyone has sent stuff. DVDs, coloring books, I have a little mini basketball hoop, stress balls. I have everything you could possibly want to keep me occupied in the hospital.”

The one thing he plans to bring in on his own is his stationary bike. “They want you to try and get up and be as mobile as possible within reason. A goal of mine is to put up a map and try to see if I can bike, on a map mileage wise, from New York to Boston.”

Though he will still be in the hospital he does hope to ring in the New Year in some special way, “Pop a big bottle of Imodium or something,” he jokes. The New Year, however, will bring special meaning to him, “I think it’s a new chapter. You get spiritual on this stuff and my sign is Scorpio. It’s also the sign of the Phoenix. Rise from the ashes and be a bigger and better and more complete person. I look at it that way.”

The one thing he won’t be too sorry to miss out on though is the planned ten-year “Survivor” reunion in LA on January 9. “I wont be able to go, unfortunately,” he explains. “It’s gonna be awesome. Well, it’s gonna be freaking chaos actually! I can’t imagine 300 of us in one room just all jockeying for face time! They are just a bunch of bulls----ers in one place… all Type A personalities typing to grasp for that last 10 minutes of fame.”

Of course, if he hadn’t done his time trapped in Africa on the show, his 30 days in isolation during his stem cell transplant might have seemed a little more daunting. “I’m sure I’ll be OK,” he concluded. “I’ve spent time in worse places for 30 days!”

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