Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews, who will be covering Super Bowl LI for the network, revealed in a Sports Illustrated interview that she recently fought cervical cancer. She kept it a secret for five months, even while covering the NFL season on Fox.
The news that she was diagnosed with cancer could not have come at a worse time for the 38-year-old Andrews. In March 2016, the civil lawsuit trial over her stalking incident ended with her being awarded $55 million. Three months later, she had a routine checkup. Then in September, her doctor told her she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“After the trial everyone kept telling me, ‘You’re so strong, for going through all of this, for holding down a job in football, for being the only woman on the crew,’” Andrews told Sports Illustrated. “Finally I got to the point where I believed it too. ‘Hey, I have cancer, but dammit, I am strong, and I can do this.’”
Here’s a look at Andrews’ fight with cancer.
1. Andrews Didn’t Tell Her Colleagues About the Diagnosis & Missed 2 ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Episodes
Andrews never publicly talked about her battle until her new interview with Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback. She said that after the stalking civil lawsuit trial, she decided to have a checkup in June and “simplify my life.” She asked fox Sports to take her off MLB coverage so she could focus on the NFL.
In September 2016, her doctor called her while she was in a meeting before the New York Giants-Washington Redskins game in Week 3. After the checkup, she did some follow-up tests, which revealed that she had cervical cancer.
Andrews told MMQB that she didn’t tell any of her colleagues at the time. After the game, she flew back to Los Angeles and missed two episodes of Dancing with the Stars, which she co-hosts for ABC. At the time, the network announced that she was supporting her now-fiance, NHL player Jarret Stoll, whose nephew was killed in a car accident. She also missed the show to take time after learning of the diagnosis.
“When you hear the word cancer, you fear the worst,” her father, Steven, told MMQB. “When it’s your child, you think to yourself, you think to God: Take me, not her. She has been through enough. She is just getting her life back.”
2. She Was Back at Work 2 Days After the Surgery, Filming an Interview in Green Bay
The first surgery happened on October 11 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and she told the doctor that she couldn’t possibly miss a game during Fox’s Super Bowl year. She also told Stoll that he wouldn’t miss a game.
Just two days after the surgery, Andrews flew to Green Bay to interview Packers star Jordy Nelson the following day. Steve Andrews flew to Green Bay with his daughter.
“Should I have been standing for a full game five days after surgery? Let’s just say the doctor didn’t recommend that,” Andrews told MMQB. “But just as I felt during my trial, sports were my escape. I needed to be with my crew.”
“After the trial everyone kept telling me, ‘You’re so strong, for going through all of this, for holding down a job in football, for being the only woman on the crew,’ ” Andrews told MMQB. “Finally I got to the point where I believed it too. ‘Hey, I have cancer, but dammit, I am strong, and I can do this.’”
On November 1, 2016, she went in for another procedure. Then, on November 17, she was told that she wouldn’t need radiation or chemotherapy.
“I gazed out the window and quietly wept,” Steven Andrews told MMQB. “Such an incredible weight had been lifted off her shoulders. I try not to think about what happened to her too much. But when I do, and I consider the enormity of what Erin has endured, I’ll often just sit down and cry.”
3. Andrews’ Father Steve Battled Prostate Cancer
This isn’t the only cancer scare the Andrews family has faced together. Her father, Steve, battled prostate cancer. He was diagnosed in 2009 and it was thankfully caught early. Andrews supported the “On The Line campaign to encourage men to get prostate cancer check-ups.
“I will never forget the night my parents called me and told me my Dad had prostate cancer,” Andrews told Abolish Cancer. “I thank God the doctors caught it early enough, he was able to have surgery, and rid himself of this disease. There are too many people that aren’t as fortunate as my family. We want to raise awareness of this cancer, in honor of our Dad and best friend Steve Andrews.”
4. Several Other Celebrities Have Battled Cervical Cancer, Including Judy Blume
Andrews isn’t the only celebrity to face cervical cancer. Author Judy Blume, who revealed in 2012 that she was also diagnosed with breast cancer, also fought cervical cancer 17 years before the breast cancer diagnosis.
Blume wrote on her blog in 2012:
I’m not afraid of surgery. Maybe I should be. Anesthesia can be dangerous but I’d had a hysterectomy seventeen years ago (cervical cancer caused by HPV). We didn’t know it was cervical cancer before the surgery but we knew something was going on. Caught it just in time, extensive but still in situ. No other treatment necessary. Another story for another time. If I had a young daughter or son I’d talk to their docs about having the vaccine to protect them from getting or giving HPV. If only there was a vaccine to protect us from breast cancer we’d be lined up — wouldn’t we?
Anyway, this surgery went well, one night in the hospital, very little pain.
British celebrity Jessica Knowles, who was married to TV host Nick Knowles, revealed in July 2016 that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 28.
“After a brief period of being unwell I was unfortunately diagnosed, this week, with cervical cancer,” she wrote in a Hello! Magazine blog post. “Following on from a difficult year it has forced me to put a lot of things into perspective and really brought to light what matters; my health and Eddie.”
Another British celebrity, Celebrity Big Brother contestant Jade Goody, fought cervical cancer. However, she died in March 2009.
The Real Housewives of Orange County‘s Tamara Barney revealed in 2012 that she also had surgery after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
5. An Estimated 4,000 Women Died of Cervical Cancer in the U.S. in 2016
According to Cancer.net, it is estimated that there were 4,120 deaths from cervical cancer in the U.S. in 2016. An estimated 12,990 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer.
When detected at an early stage, there is a very high survival rate. The American Cancer Society estimates that the “5-year survival rate for women with invasive cervical cancer is 92 percent.” However, if the cancer is more widely spread, the 5-year survival rate could be as low as 17 percent.
Here’s the Cancer.gov description of cervical cancer:
The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).
The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the thin, flat cells that line the cervix. Adenocarcinoma begins in cervical cells that make mucus and other fluids.
According to the World Health Organization, there are just over 1 million women living with cervical cancer around the world.