- Sportcaster Erin Andrews was awarded the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s Award of Excellence in recognition of her cancer advocacy.
- She fought cervical cancer, and since beating the disease, she has become a powerful voice advocating for cancer research and support for cancer patients.
- In honor of the award, the sportscaster aims to raise $3,100 for the foundation.
Andrews was named the 31st recipient of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s Award of Excellence. NFL coach Vince Lombardi was diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer in 1970, and he died 10 weeks later.Read More
The award Andrews received is meant to recognize “individuals who capture the spirit of commitment and pursuit of excellence, which define the legendary Coach Lombardi and the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.” In honor of the award, the sportscaster aims to raise $3,100 for the foundation.
An event will be held to grant her the award on March 5 in Milwaukee, WI. In an Instagram post, Andrews said that any money she raises will “go directly to the foundation to fund groundbreaking cancer research and treatment programs.”
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Erin Andrews’s Cervical Cancer Battle
Though she kept her cancer battle private at the time, Andrews has since spoken out about her journey and the way it has shaped the rest of her life.
On a Saturday morning in September 2016, Erin Andrews got an alarming call from her doctor. An inconclusive annual exam a few months prior had led Andrews’s gynecologist to send her for additional testing. Now, the results were in. Andrews had been diagnosed with cervical cancer, and there was no time to waste. She needed surgery.
In an interview with Coping, Andrews talked about how shocked she was by the news. “I’m really healthy. I didn’t think I would be a candidate for (cervical cancer),” she said. “I thought I was totally fine and just getting ready for Week 3 in the NFL, and I got a call that I wasn’t. And then I think you just go through panic.”
She was determined not to let her health get in the way of her work. She scheduled her surgery for a Tuesday so she could have the most time possible between the operation and her slot hosting Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights. Erin Andrews never missed a game that season, and she kept the news of her diagnosis confined to her family and close friends.
“I work in a male-dominated industry, so it’s not something you really want to talk about,” she explained. “I felt like it was something I wanted to keep quiet. I wanted to beat it. I wanted to focus on my job.”
That is exactly what she did. Andrews underwent two surgeries, and in November, she got the call from her oncologist that the operations were successful–she was cancer free. When her battle was over, Andrews finally felt ready to open up to the public. She shared her story with Sports Illustrated, and the next day, she was getting calls from media organizations and her bosses. Everyone wanted to talk to her about how she kept working through the disease. She had football players approaching her to thank her for sharing her story on behalf of the women in their lives who fought the same disease.
As an outspoken cancer advocate, Erin Andrews is focused on pushing more women to get annual exams and talk with their doctors about Pap+HPV testing. “Every two hours, a woman dies of cervical cancer,” she said. “And the message I’m trying to send out to women is you don’t have to die of this. It’s treatable, and it’s curable. But you have to get to the doctor and get screened.”
IVF For Cancer Fighters & Survivors
Andrews was 38 when doctors detected her cervical cancer. To treat her cancer, Andrews had two surgeries. Prior to surgery, she had In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to preserve her fertility.
Many people fighting cancers that affect reproductive parts (i.e. cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer), choose to freeze their eggs or their sperm as a way to preserve their fertility prior to cancer treatment. Some cancer treatments can damage fertility, so it’s a preventative measure for people who may want to have children.
In a previous interview, Dr. Jaime Knopman, a reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM NY, says that time is of the essence when it comes to fertility conversations with your doctor. She says, “The sooner we start, the sooner that patient can then go on and do their treatment. A lot of the success comes down to how old you are at the time you froze and the quality of the lab in which your eggs or embryos are frozen in.”
“Oftentimes, we just do what we call a ‘fast start,'” says Dr. Knopman. “We start them no matter where they are in their menstrual cycle. Because of that, it can sometimes take a bit longer than it would for traditional IVF stimulation. But all in, you’re never really talking about more than two weeks.”
Understanding Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer that is typically detected through a routine Pap smear; during this test, your doctor will collect a sample of cells from your cervix (using a small brush or spatula). The cells are then examined under a microscope for abnormalities, including cancer and changes that could indicate pre-cancer.
It is known that the human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes more than 70% of cervical cancer cases which affect people like Erin Andrews and others.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, it is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 79 million Americans have HPV.
The HPV vaccine can prevent head and neck cancer, as well as cancer of the cervix if it’s given at a young age before some one has become sexually active.
“The vast majority of humans in the U.S., both men and women, will eventually get infected with human papillomavirus,” Dr. Allen Ho, director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet. “The important thing to know about HPV is that there are many different strains, and only a couple of them tend to be more cancer inducing. Probably less than 1 percent of the population who get infected happen to have the cancer-causing virus that, somehow, their immune system fails to clear.”
Cervical cancer is usually preventable with the HPV vaccine. That’s why SurvivorNet experts urge those who are eligible to get vaccinated against HPV.
The vaccine is typically given to children before they are sexually active, as HPV is transmitted through sexual contact.
“We recommend strongly that children are vaccinated against HPV to prevent cervical cancer, but also to prevent head and neck cancer,” Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist specializing in head and neck cancer at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
“Now the key with the vaccine is that you received the vaccine before you ever reach sexual debut or have sexual encounters. So that’s why these vaccines are approved for young children ages 9, 10, 11 years old, up to 26.”
Dr. Jonathan Berek of the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center addresses myths that might keep people from getting the HPV vaccine.
Contrary to some detrimental misinformation circulated online, the HPV vaccine is entirely safe. There are virtually no side effects with this vaccine, Dr. Jonathan Berek, director of the Women’s Cancer Center at Stanford Medical Center, told SurvivorNet. It is “incredibly safe,” he added.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer can include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after vaginal sex, bleeding after menopause, after douching, bleeding and spotting in between periods or having heavier or longer (menstrual) periods than usual.
- Unusual discharge from the vagina that may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
- Pain during sex.
- Pain in the pelvic region.
Contributing: Sydney Schaefer and Anne McCarthy