Meet Missy Byrd — The 'Survivor' Contestant Who Survived A Brain Tumor

She's not going down without a fight.

Who Is Missy Byrd? Details On The CBS 'Survivor: Island Of The Idols' Cast Member's Brain Tumor Instagram 

In order to participate on TV's Survivor: Island of the Idols, you need to have a certain set of skills.

Contestants don't only need to know how to survive in the wild, but they need to have strategic minds to help them win all of the various games and challenges and to help them plot their various allegiances.

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Who is Missy Byrd? She's a season 39 competitor on the long-running show and she has skills and brains galore! Plus, she's already won a real-life game of Survivor ...

1. Meet Missy Byrd

Missy Byrd isn't your average Survivor contestant. Joining the show in its 39th season, Missy is already a survivor at heart, having bounced back after a brutal brain tumor diagnosis.

Heavy reports that Byrd tried out for Survivor because: “It’s something I’ve always watched — what other people do — watched and critiqued them, like, ‘Oh, that was a dumb move, why would you do that?’ So to get out there and to actually play and wear a buff, the majority of time it was surreal. It was like a different world. It was a really cool experience. I wouldn’t trade it. I cried more times than not. If there was a sunset, I would be like, ‘God, there’s a sunset and I’m on Survivor.‘ It was crazy."


2. What surprised her about Survivor

Missy is an early favorite to take home the win this season. She was surprised by some aspects of what she learned actually being a part of the Survivor cast.

For example, she always thought secretly that if you were about to pass out the producers would get you food. Turns out, they don't!

3. She's an Air Force veteran

Missy joined the Air Force when she was just 18-years-old, but she was medically discharged after she learned that she was suffering from a brain tumor.

Thankfully, those days are behind her now and Missy lives in Seattle, where she is working on developing a new app.

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4. How she dealt with her diagnosis

Missy's symptoms started when she was attending the United States Air Force Academy just north of Colorado Springs. She was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor in the pituitary gland in her brain.

For some, being diagnosed with a brain tumor would be devastating, but not for Missy. She fought back and fought back hard, and once she was in the clear she began what she calls her "Oprah year" as she describes it.

In an interview with Parade she said: "After everything was done [with my tumor], I was like, ‘[expletive] it. Let me make a list of everything that, had I died, I would never have done.’ I wrote down things like 'Beyonce tickets' and ‘Buy a jeep.’ And I wrote, ‘Apply for Survivor.’ All of a sudden, these things started to fall into place."

5. Odd Side Effects

The tumor deeply impacted her emotional state during a very difficult time.


“I would do really bad on this test, or I would do something bad in basketball. I couldn’t stay at school. My dad died during that time, and the tumor messed with my emotions. Normally a parent dies and you cry, but my body didn’t let me have those responses. I was really out of whack, hiding from people, running away. Crazy stuff," she told the Seattle Times.

6. Missy's Biggest Accomplishment

Like all of us, Missy has her likes and she has her dislikes.

According to her Survivor bio she can't stand people who are annoying, and she loves curling up at home when she can with a nice cup of tea and very good book.


When asked to list what accomplishments she is the most proud of, Missy says, “always finding a way to travel the world regardless of budget. We all deserve to see what’s out there.”

Whether or not Missy winds up winning Survivor or not, there's no doubt that her story is already a deeply inspirational one.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.