It was one of those perfect, early-fall days in New York City, when the trees in Central Park have only just started to relinquish their leaves, that Cancer Wellness met up with Ethan Zohn to take photos for the issue 17 cover story. Zohn was totally at ease amongst the hubbub of his former hometown — this may come as a surprise, as he traded the chaos of city life for the deep forest of New England about seven years ago. While the desire to leave a cramped apartment in the city for a cozy cabin in the woods may be familiar to most of us in 2023, Zohn’s decision to “do the off-the-grid thing” wasn’t motivated by the general ennui of a post-pandemic world, but a fight for survival following cancer recurrence and shattered mental health. But this change of scenery, along with an exploration into alternative therapies and a focus on philanthropy, is what most helped Zohn find peace post-cancer.
Zohn is best known for winning “Survivor: Africa,” the third season of one of the longest-running reality TV shows in existence. However, his story of recovering from aggressive Hodgkin’s lymphoma is just as remarkable and inspiring as the one where he outlasts 15 strangers in the middle of the desert in Kenya, with barely any water, food or shelter. “Survivor” came first, but cancer changed everything.