She stunned her Mogo Mogo tribe by becoming only the second player ever to quit the game. At the end of the show, viewers learned that Jenna rushed to her mother's side. Eight days later, her mother lost her 12-year battle with cancer.
On Friday, Jenna told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that she knew it was imperative for her to leave the game when she did.
"It was just a feeling that I never had before," she said. "It was like a premonition. I just felt like I was being pulled out of there. Me and my mom are really close. I knew that I had to go with my gut. It was a very hard decision to make."
Jenna explained that she and her mother had talked before she decided to sign up for "All-Stars." Her mother, Jenna said, was a big fan of the show, recalling, "She said, 'Go. Don't worry about me. Everything will be fine.' So I went. My mind has been dealing with this for 12 years, so it's not new for me to live this life. I was worried, but I just had to keep going. And she's like 'I'll be fine.'
"But with cancer," Jenna continued, "sometimes you suddenly take a turn. And that's what happened to her."
When Jenna announced her decision to all the players and to host Jeff Probst, he asked other played to weigh in and, The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen commented, "Alicia was kind of harsh." (Alicia told Jenna, "You shouldn't have even been here.")
Harsh, yes, Jenna told Chen, "But that's Alicia... I wonder if they wouldn't have done what I did in my situation. And they don't know what it's like. And I would never want them to know what it's like. So it's a lot different to try to make an opinion, based on having no idea how it feels."
Her own tribe was supportive of her decision, she said, and certain people from the opposing tribes became very emotional as they bade her farewell. "They got pretty worked up about it," she recalled. "That really meant a lot to me, too."
When Jenna did get home, her mother was not talking.
"The night I got home, she stopped eating and drinking," Jenna recalled. "She wasn't speaking, but I kind of like whispered that 'I'm home.' She kind of let out this big sigh, like a big, deep breath. She didn't talk at all or speak or kind of wake up after that."
Yet, she said, she feels that her mother was waiting for her to come home.
In response to a viewer's question, Jenna said that, if she had stuck around, she probably would have allied herself with Shii Ann, Kathy and Lex. And as for Richard's habit of staying naked, Jenna, who took her clothes off for food on "Survivor: Amazon" and later posed for Playboy with tribemate Heidi Strobel, pointed out, "I really don't have that much room to talk.
"If he wants to be naked, then that's the way he wants to be, then it really didn't bother me. I think, like Colby said on one of the shows, it's kind of scarier we got used to it and it's not a big deal of him doing it."
And finally a caller from Washington, D.C., wanted to know if Jenna feels bad now about "the shallow comments you had made about you and Heidi being the prettiest girls, the sexiest girls, and demeaning the older ladies" when they were on "Survivor: Amazon."
Jenna's reply: "I'll never live that down. You know what, a lot of the comments weren't directly from me. But I don't know. I don't know if I feel bad because -- I feel bad for making some of the comments that were inappropriate, but I did it and I can't take it back, and I was a lot different person then than I am now. I was really immature, really young and I didn't know any better."
The "Survivor: All-Stars" faced a series of both physical and emotional challenges on Thursday night's episode. Every contestant battled fierce clouds of biting bugs, and Richard was victorious in a one-on-one showdown with a shark.
It was clear from the beginning that tension is building in the three tribes. Rupert and Ethan are stuck in a constant battle of the Alpha males in the Saboga tribe, each one looking to win the title of top tribe provider.
There's a small drama brewing in the Chapera camp as flirtation heats up between Amber and Rob M., while Jenna M.'s grief over her mother's illness had begun to take its toll on tribe morale in the Mogo Mogo camp.
The episode featured a slightly unorthodox reward challenge, where all three tribes stayed in their own camps working on a home improvement project. Saboga, Mogo Mogo and Chapera all found large "Home Depot" crates in their camps fully stocked with tools and left with instructions to build a functional, but creative shelter. And they got just 24 hours to complete the task before the tools were taken away.
Rupert took charge of Saboga's shelter – after a brief war of words with Jerri – choosing to dig down in the sand to build a sub-sea level log cabin. The choice didn't go over well with an outside contractor brought in to judge the tribe shelters.
With professional builder Rob M. on their team, Chapera fared better, building a sturdy shelter with a swing and enclosed palm and bamboo area supported above the ground. They won the reward: a trunk with blankets, pillows and a second clue to unlocking their rice chest.
Mogo Mogo's tree-house shelter won second place, earning them a clue as well.