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Why a two-time cancer survivor and ‘Cajun mermaid’ did Naked and Afraid

Why a two-time cancer survivor and ‘Cajun mermaid’ did Naked and Afraid
Lisa Hagan, a two-time breast cancer survivor, on Naked and Afraid season 11, episode 9, "In Too Deep" (Photo by Discovery)

Lisa Hagan—a former medic in the U.S. Army National Guard who splits her time between working as an ER nurse in Louisiana and a charter boat captain in the Florida Keys—was introduced to the Discovery Channel reality show Naked and Afraid by her high school best friend, Julie.

Lisa, who’s also a two-time breast cancer survivor, started watching, and eventually applied to be a contestant without telling Julie. But before casting producers got back to Lisa last year, Julie had died of breast cancer. Lisa decided to do the show in memory of her late friend.

Joe and Lisa on Naked and Afraid season 11, episode 9, "In Too Deep"
Joe and Lisa on Naked and Afraid season 11, episode 9, “In Too Deep” (Photo by Discovery)

Lisa told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser that during her 21-day challenge, which took place in the Bahamas, “There were signs of her all along the way. I knew her spirit was out there with me. I wasn’t going to let her down.”

During her Naked and Afraid experience (Discovery, Sunday at 8), which is called “In Too Deep,” Lisa is partnered with Joe, an Army veteran and dive master, and together they didn’t just have to try to survive for 21 days with no food, shelter, or clothing, but they had to trek 25 miles across the interconnect islands of Andros.

Upon meeting for the first time, Lisa asks, “Have you ever met a Cajun mermaid before?” She also tells Joe, “You don’t let me tap out, and I won’t let you tap out.”

Lisa spends the challenge with more clothing—well, not clothing, but covering—than contestants usually have, because she can’t get her breasts sunburned, as a result of cancer treatments.

Meanwhile, her hair becomes a useful survival tool, as this image shows.

Lisa Hagan on Naked and Afraid season 11, episode 9, "In Too Deep"
Lisa Hagan on Naked and Afraid season 11, episode 9, “In Too Deep” (Photo by Discovery)

In her interview with the Daily Advertiser, Lisa said she wants to inspire other people. “Life is all about perspective. Find something positive every day. It shouldn’t take dying or doing something as hard as surviving to do that. You should be living, not going through the motions,” she said.

“If I can use this to highlight an organization — I chose Miles Perret [Cancer Services] because it’s local—if I can use this moment to do something positive, I will. If you don’t love your life, change it. You only get one life.”

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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