01/10/2010 AT 3:05 PM ET
More than 200 former contestants celebrated the 10th anniversary of Survivor Saturday, but one alum couldn’t make it – Ethan Zohn, undergoing what he hopes is the last of the treatments for cancer.
“He’s somehow become, to me, our star, who represents the good, the bad and the struggle, everything about Survivor,” said host Jeff Probst.
Zohn’s girlfriend, Jenna Morasca, winner of the Amazon season, swept in for the event at CBS’s studios in Los Angeles. “I’ve literally come in on the latest flight and will go home on the earliest flight,” she says. “It’s hard to be away.”
She came with promising news. As Zohn undergoes a complete stem-cell transplant, Morasca reports, “He’s doing okay. We’re getting toward the end and we’re hoping to go home [from the hospital] this week, but then he’s still going to be on kind of a watch and in isolation for three months so we’re going to take it day by day but in my opinion he is cancer free.”
But she says it hasn’t always been easy. Morasca had taken to Twitter to chronicle her difficulty at donating platelets, writing on last week, “5th time trying to give platelets and the machine broke! Some1 is trying to tell me something.”
She says now, “I think I maybe over-Twittered because think I got a little, you know, there were some really, really dark, dark moments that I don’t think I was ready for. But now we’re on the upswing so things are getting better, but it was a long journey and Ethan’s the most amazing, toughest person I’ve ever met in my life.” Zohn, 36, the winner of the Africa season, is battling a rare form of Hodgkin’s disease. Chronicling his struggle on PEOPLE.com, Zohn says that after intense chemotherapy doctors have found no active cancer cells in his body, but the stem-cell transplant means a month in isolation.