updated 02/28/2012 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/29/2012 AT 11:30 AM ET
Ethan Zohn isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Currently battling a recurrence of his Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the former Survivor winner underwent a stem-cell transplant Wednesday from one of his brothers – and he had a particular condition for his doctor.
“Ethan asked the doctor what was the record time for getting out of here, so he wants to beat that,” Zohn’s longtime girlfriend Jenna Morasca, who is staying with him at the hospital, tells PEOPLE.
“His doctor said there was no prize, and Ethan said, ‘Yes, there is. You’re going to tell the other patients that I made it out in three weeks.’ ”
Returning to the same ward where they stayed two years ago when Zohn was first diagnosed was difficult for the couple.