updated 10/20/2013 AT 4:30 PM ET
•originally published 10/21/2013 AT 8:45 AM ET
Candice Woodcock Cody wasn’t even supposed to be on Survivor: Blood vs. Water. But after two other contestants were cut from the game due to medical issues, producers flew Candice and her husband John to the Philippines as replacements.
It didn’t work out the way they had hoped. The other contestants saw her as an outsider and voted her off just minutes into the game. She was sent to Redemption Island where she lasted for 12 days before losing a challenge and being sent home.
Cody, a 30-year-old doctor from Washington, D.C., talks with PEOPLE about her game – and why former NFL player Brad Culpepper seemed so annoying.
Candice, how disappointing was it to be voted off before the game even started?
You have no idea! I had used up all my vacation time for the next three years just to play Survivor. So to be voted out so soon was devastating.
But why were you voted out? You’re so good in challenges; you’d think your tribe would have wanted to keep you
Everyone else was in the Philippines for several days before the show began, and they were all looking at each other and making their plans for how to play the game. John and I were flown out at the last minute, so I was an easy first boot. Everyone else had been sitting around Ponderosa, looking at each other and counting their numbers up. I just didn’t fit in.
Did you know that was a possibility?
I did, but I thought I’d have three days to work my way into my tribe. But when Jeff Probst said we were going to vote someone off at the beginning, I thought, ‘Oh no. This can’t be good.’ I didn’t fit into anyone’s plans.
I bet you were relieved to find out that there’s a Redemption Island this season
Oh yeah, absolutely. I was confident in my challenge abilities, and it gave me some sort of safety net to actually play the game. And it got me 11 days to play the game.