The mop-topped, soccer-playing winner of Survivor: Africa has lopped off his mop. Well, most of it anyway.
Ethan Zohn, 35, who last week revealed to PEOPLE that he's battling a rare form of Hodgkin's disease, decided to cut off his trademark curly locks in anticipation of losing his hair from intense chemotherapy treatments he began on May 15. He even took a video-camera along to document his day at the salon for PEOPLE.com.
"Jenna loves it!" Zohn says, referring to his girlfriend, Survivor: The Amazon winner Jenna Morasca, 28, who accompanied Zohn to Manhattan's Dop Dop Salon on May 20. "She thinks I should have done it 10 years ago. I look like a bad-ass now and not a preppy."
Cutting his familiar hair was not an easy decision. "I'm the curly haired soccer player from Survivor. It's my identity," says Zohn. But the trip to the salon meant more than that. "I was nervous sitting in the chair, not because I was cutting my hair off. Hair grows back – but it's what it represented. 'I'm cutting my hair because I have cancer and I'm going through chemo.' "
But after the 'do was done, he liked the look so much, he says, "I don't know if I'll ever grow it back!"
Zohn expects that all of his hair – including his scruffy beard – will fall out within days of his second chemo treatment on May 29.
Cutting his hair wound up being "one of the most liberating moments of my life," says Zohn, who is vowing to stay positive and to use his battle with cancer to help educate and inspire others. "I realized I've been shackled by my hair. I suddenly felt free and alive. It looks great, and overall I'm pretty psyched about it."
Be sure to check People.com for more video blogs from Zohn in the future as his treatment progresses.