Last night, I almost cried when Moana Hope was eliminated from Australian Survivor Champions vs. Contenders.
There were no actual tears, but my eyes were definitely misty.
The 30-year-old AFLW player quickly won over Aussie households (mine included) because of her honesty, humour and authenticity. Even though she played hard from day one, Moana somehow made lying and scheming endearing, probably because she’s a team player above all else.
But after finding out just how sick Moana actually was while filming Australian Survivor, I can now understand why she had to leave the game.
“I was sick for eight days, which you didn’t really see on TV, the champions tribe had to see me sit there in torture. I lost seven kilos in five days and was fainting out on the island, I was quite literally deteriorating,” she told Mamamia.
“The rules of Survivor are, what you see [on TV] is all we get. I probably would’ve given my left toe for medical attention or something that would make it better. My heart didn’t want to leave, I was so in love and having the best time, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done, but I couldn’t eat or drink, and by the time you saw me at tribal council [last night], that was me after eight days, nine kilos lighter. I looked like it was day 45.”
“Probably the best experience of my life.”
— Australian Survivor (@Survivor_AU) August 9, 2018
Moana said her physical illness also had a massive impact on her mental health. Being a footballer, playing in and helping her team is her whole life. Not being able to do that in the game was devastating.
“For me, [being sick] started to make me pretty depressed because I was so unwell, and you can’t just run down to the pharmacy and grab what you need to get stuff sorted, it was super hard,” she said.
“The hardest bit was feeling helpless. I love being a part of a team and being able to contribute in challenges, but the worse I got, the more I couldn’t do. I’m all about the team and the more it went on, the harder it got. And half a million dollars was on the line. That half a million could’ve got my mum out of housing commission so, you know, I wanted it more than anyone, arguably.
“At the same time, I was the only non-retired athlete there. I knew I had to come home to a business of 70 people, looking after my disabled sister Vinny and taking care of my entire family, it got to that point where I had to put [life on the outside] first.”
Moana’s health didn’t just magically improve when she got back to the comforts of home in Australia. She said she was still just as sick, if not worse, for three and half weeks post-Survivor.