The Biggest Loser's Chandra Maple: My Grandfather's Illness Makes Me Fight Harder

The Biggest Loser's Chandra Maple on Life After Elimination
Chandra Maple
Trae Patton/NBC

10/11/2014 AT 03:00 PM EDT

Chandra Maple was once an all-star athlete, but after a career-ending injury she felt broken both inside and out.

"Growing up, I was always the star on the basketball team, so when I had my knee injury and that was taken away from me, I kind of lost that," Maple tells PEOPLE of ending her sports career when she was just 15. "I didn't know what it was like to succeed anymore."

At 341 lbs., Maple knew it was time to take control of her life and applied to become a contestant on season 16 of The Biggest Loser.

"The biggest thing I had to deal with mentally was just feeling like I could do things and I could succeed and not be afraid of failure anymore," she says.

Though Maple, 26, was eliminated from the NBC reality weight-loss competition Thursday, the optometric technician says that she has continued to find success at home in Dodge City, Kansas.

"Life at home is fantastic. I got to come home to such a supportive community and family," says Maple, who notes that she has lost a total of 84 lbs. "I'm really glad to be finishing out my journey at home surrounded by my family, who have been concerned about my weight and health for years."

The family has been rallying around Maple while she continues to compete for the $100,000 at-home prize, but they are also turning their energy toward Maple's grandfather.

"We just found out yesterday that his cancer is back, so he is not doing very well," Maple told reporters Friday. "This is a tough time for our family right now."

But Maple is optimistic about her grandfather's fighting spirit.

"I told him, 'I'm going to keep fighting and you've got to, too.' And he said, 'Okay, I'm going to keep fighting,' " she says. "We'll get through it."

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