The last few days Clearwater-raised vocalist Juliet Simms appeared on NBC's hit singing competition The Voice, she was fighting off more than just three other finalists trying to win the show's top title.
She was combating a case of walking pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis and a fever that reached up to 103 degrees, keeping her from rehearsing any of the songs she performed Monday.
Still, Simms refuses to blame her illness for losing the competition, despite placing second in the show's finale, just behind former Alicia Keys backup singer Jermaine Paul.
"I didn't come that far to let (illness) get the best of me," said the 26 year old, calling from Los Angeles a day after the show's big finale. "I feel like, sick as I was, I overcame it."
Even though she lost, there's an unmistakable tone of relief and joy in Simms' voice, as she can finally relax after weeks on competing in a contest that whittled more than 70 singers down to just one winner.
And for Simms, that sense of relief started with Tuesday's two-hour finale, where she could enjoy singing with Miami-based rapper Flo Rida, knowing audience votes had already been tabulated.
"It was the first time I got to go into the show's performance purely for fun," said Simms, who sang on a mash-up version of the rapper's hits Whistle and Wild Ones, barely noticing that the show delayed announcing results until the show's last 10 minutes.
She describes the time after Tuesday's finale ended as a bit of a blur; rushed into a van and whisked away from the studio, she had to speak with a psychologist and assure that "I'm not going to kill myself because I lost. Actually, I was very happy."
Small wonder: Now that the dust is clearing, Simms said her coach on the show, Cee Lo Green, has promised to help her develop material for her next record.
But don't expect Simms to revive her old band, Warped Tour mainstays Automatic Loveletter. The singer said in an earlier interview The Voice taught her not to compromise her artistic vision to fit in a band.
Ask if the rivalry between Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and pop diva Christina Aguilera was real — the two joined Green and country star Blake Shelton as celebrity mentors on the show — and Simms answers without hesitation.
"Nothing is fake…nothing is staged or done for publicity stunts," she said, referencing how Aguilera seemed to direct special barbs to Levine's mentee, Tony Lucca. "Cee Lo and I were just like Switzerland, watching everything go down and staying out of it."
Simms still isn't sure when she'll get back to Clearwater. Her work is just beginning in Los Angeles, taking advantage of her visibility on the program while the showbiz buzz is still hot.
"Second place feels like first," she said. "I'm just happy to represent Florida and ready to use this opportunity to any advantage I can."