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Franky March opens up on her traumatic Survivor experience

The social media influencer put it all on the line when she fell ill on the reality show, something she described as the most terrifying night of her life.

Lying on a hard bed of bamboo, Franky March drifts in and out of a sleepy daze under searing 40-degree heat in rugged Thailand terrain, her temperature rising dangerously.

Hours later, the Survivor NZ contestant is told by producers to make a grave call – she can return to her plush life back home in Auckland or she can risk her health to stay in the game.

Franky continued fighting for the $250,000 prize money and grand title, coming as no surprise to family and friends of the strong-willed 24-year-old, who is adamant she'll stamp out judgmental stereotypes this season. She became the third person voted off the island in Sunday night's episode.

Franky (grey tank-top) on *Survivor NZ*
Franky (grey tank-top) on Survivor NZ

Speaking with Woman's Day on her return from treacherous conditions in Sangkhla Buri, the bubbly ZM Wildcard contestant talks about the most terrifying night of her life and how it reminded her of cheating death once before.

"On the island, I got sick and it came on really fast," Franky tells. "By the evening, I was shaking and vomiting because it was pouring with torrential rain."

The social media influencer, who has over 8000 Instagram followers, describes huddling in with her fellow castaways for warmth as the temperature plummeted dramatically at their unsheltered campsite.

"We were telling stories, and I remember falling asleep and waking up multiple times at different parts of the story, but I couldn't speak."

Franky – who thinks she might have been bitten by something – adds, "It was the most traumatic experience because I'm in control of my destiny – no-one else is there to make the decision for me and it's scary not knowing what's going to happen. It'll stay with me for the rest of my life."

But the Auckland socialite's island crisis wasn't the first time that she's had to carry on through serious health complications. Diagnosed with endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at 14, Franky was in and out of school with sickness as a teenager and relied on sleeping pills at night to control the pain.

"When you have that condition, you really struggle to bounce back," she explains. "And I had to eat healthily and make sure I slept so I could cope from day to day."

When the dedicated hockey player had her first operation for endometriosis at 17, it had life-changing consequences after she was mistakenly given an overdose of pethidine.

"They miscalculated my weight, I went into respiratory arrest and I could have died," Franky recalls.

"Then when they were resuscitating me, they dislocated my shoulder and didn't know until I woke up from a coma five hours later. I was injury prone because I'm hyper-mobile and everything moves further than it should, which could be why it dislocated so easily."

Franky recovers from her PCOS surgery in 2013 with boyfriend Max by her side.
Franky recovers from her PCOS surgery in 2013 with boyfriend Max by her side.

At the time, Franky was playing hockey 30 hours a week in the hope of scoring a slot in the Black Sticks.

"I'd played since I was five and was striving for the top," the blonde beauty tells us.

"But I had it all stripped away because after recovering, I started playing again and just kept dislocating my shoulder."

As with the decision to stay in this year's Survivor, she had to make a painstaking call. She agreed on shoulder surgery, which consequently ended her budding hockey career.

Franky, who had two more operations for PCOS, says when the ad for Survivor NZ popped up, she knew it was exactly what she needed.

"I felt like I hadn't really challenged myself in a long time and I was determined to make sure it happened! I'm really fortunate my PCOS didn't play up during my time on the island."

With plans to head to London this year alongside her sharebroker beau of four years, Max Fitzgerald, sports-mad Franky says that she shocked her contenders with her physical and mental endurance on episode one.

"I went on the show to break unwarranted stereotypes about influencers," she explains. "It all looks very glam and people put you in a box unfairly, but that's not me."

A self-described potty mouth with a wicked sense of humour, Franky tells, "I don't wear make-up most of the time unless it's for Instagram and I love hanging out with a group of boys or playing beer pong."

She adds, "I might look like some social media blonde with a French bulldog called Winston, but I know I'll send shockwaves when people see what I'm capable of."

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