'Survivor: Philippines': Dana Lambert on Her 'Seriously Heartbreaking' Decision to Leave Game

Survivor: Philippines Dana Lambert - P 2012
Monty Brinton/CBS

Survivor: Philippines Dana Lambert - P 2012

This season of Survivor: Philippines saw the return of three medically evacuated players from previous seasons, and Wednesday night's episode found one of the new contestants forced to leave the game due to illness.

Dana Lambert was seen doubled over in pain with a fever when Jeff Probst and medical personnel were called in to check on her condition. Although she was told she could stick it out for 12 more hours to see how she was feeling, Dana opted to leave the game, telling Probst her pain was "like a knife."

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On Thursday, the 32-year-old cosmetologist from Winston, Salem, N.C., talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her "seriously heartbreaking" end in the game, whether she'd play again and failing to recognize her tribemate and former Major League Baseball player Jeff Kent.

The Hollywood Reporter: At what point did you know you had to leave the game?

Dana Lambert: Honestly, not until [Probst and the medical team] came out [to her tribe's camp]. I didn't know that was going to be the outcome when I was on [Jonathan] Penner's lap. Honestly that whole recollection of everything was kind of a blur. I was so physically and mentally out of it that when I saw Jeff come up and pull the tarp away, literally it was like a beacon of light. I was like, I'm fixing to get some help. It was so nice when they showed up knowing that I was not going to spend another day or night being sick.

THR: When did you start getting sick?

Dana: At the very beginning of the show. I was fighting off serious stomach stuff. I didn't know if it was nerves or not being used to the food and stuff we were eating [or] the rain. ... I tried to will myself into being well; it just didn't work out. Twelve days of that day and night, it was more than my body could take. My body was cussing me out.

THR: So you just quickly went downhill?

Dana: Yes, and then of course you don't see where I passed out before in the other eipsodes. Lots of blacking out, head on trees. It was tough, but I wanted to play the game and be in it. I pictured myself ignoring the pain and it going away. But I was pretty much out of it in the last challenge, too. I was zombified.

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THR: What did the doctors tell you was the cause?

Dana: It was dehydration. I went into the hospital after and got fluids and lots of antibiotics and finally started to recover. It all comes back to you when you're laying in the hospital bed: Oh, I'm not in the game anymore.

THR: Do you regret leaving?

Dana: No, I didn't, and knowing the kind of person I am, it takes something pretty freaking severe for me to give up on something. I have to stand behind this decision. Truly at that point, there was no way I could have helped the tribe ... and no way I was going to get better.

THR: Did you tell the tribe anything as you were leaving that we didn't see on TV?

Dana: I didn't really talk to them a lot on the way out. The tribe did know I was sick the whole time. I tried to hide it best I could, but they knew. I kept getting up all night and throwing up. They knew what was going on, or they obviously would not have been as sweet as they were when I left. Honestly, I was basicallly sorry for them; I felt so bad for the girls [Sarah Dawson and Katie Hanson, with whom she had an alliance]. I was hoping Denise [Stapley, who joined the Kalabaw tribe after hers was decimated] would make up for that [Stapley ended up joining forces with the men instead]. I felt bad, but at the same time, I was so sick and ready to get to the hospital and have them put me out.

THR: Would you go back and play again if asked?

Dana: Absolutely. I felt like because I was so sick, my personality just didn't get to come across the way I normally am, and I think I could have walked out with so much more. But who knows if that would have been the case or not? It didn't happen. But I would love to prove to myself that I can do better than I did.

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THR: Did you not recognize Jeff Kent at all?

Dana: Not at all. I had no clue who he is; I'm not a huge baseball fan. Dawson told me after. I wish she had told me [during the game] because I would have called him out on it, not to him, but in front of everybody else. It probably wouldn't have changed anything about my opinions. He's a hardworking guy -- whether he likes gay people or not [Kent backed California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, while Dana herself is openly gay]. He's a good guy, but no, I had no clue.

THR: And what about Lisa Whelchel [the former Facts of Life star is on the other tribe]?

Dana: No, which is weird, becuase I was a huge Facts of Life fan growing up. I was always hoping that Jo and Blair would make out or something. But looking at her now [watching the show], I totally see that it's her.

THR: Anyone in particular you're rooting for to win?

Dana: If I could choose the three people I'm hoping to go the farthest, it's Penner, Denise and [returning player Michael] Skupin. We might look like we were against Penner, and we were as far as the game goes. He's a threat; he's played before. But Penner is up there for a third time playing the game, and everybody wants it bad, but to me Penner was a genuinely good man, and I love the guy and I hope he goes far.